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Sunday, 14 June, 1998, 11:17 GMT 12:17 UK
Tribute paid to French police
Several scuffles broke out as fans and police fought.
English football officials have paid tribute to the French police for their handling of Saturday night's trouble involving 200 fans in Marseille.

Four people were arrested - and two are still being questioned - after bottles and stones were thrown in the old port area of the city.

The Football Association's Security Adviser, Sir Brian Hayes, praised the decision not to use riot police.

"What we had asked the police to do was to recognise that our fans could sometimes overreact to heavy-handed policing.

"They have told us they will police with a light touch unless the behaviour is really bad and outrageous. Last night's was not," Sir Brian said.

"It was regrettable but the police judged they could deal with it with their ordinary police officers in shirt sleeves and doing normal patrol which they did. They had riot police in reserve."

Drink involved

Thousands of England fans have been gathering in the port city in preparation for their team's first-round match against Tunisia on Monday.

The trouble reportedly broke out after England supporters spilled out of a bar where they had been drinking in the Old Port area of the city on Saturday night.

One fan was injured after a car he had jumped on drove away. Scuffles then broke out between other fans and police around the bar.

The man who fell from the car and a press photographer needed minor medical treatment. Two England fans were arrested and held in jail.

A BBC correspondent said only small groups of fans appeared to have skirmished with police, with many getting caught up in the clashes.

'Motorists showered'

Police used dogs to quell the clashes
England fans are also said to have showered motorists with bottles and glasses during the clashes.

Around 100 police officers, some with dogs, began to drive fans away from the area in front of the bar, causing sporadic skirmishes which lasted about an hour.

A small group of chanting fans remained and there was a brief stand-off with police.

One fan, who declined to give his name, blamed the incident with the car for the violence.

He said: "It was out of order what happened to the guy. There was a delay taking him to hospital and it made the fans angry. People will say this is our fault but it isn't."

'High risk'

Some fans have said they were not to blame for the escalation
French police have been bracing themselves for the arrival of England fans in the World Cup.

The latest events mean they are likely to tighten security even further at the opening Tunisia match, which has been classed "high risk" by police.

British officials have expressed concern over ticketing arrangements, with black market sales proving a major headache for organisers.

There are fears that trouble could spark as some supporters find they have purchased bogus tickets, while those with genuine tickets may find themselves outside the England fans' enclosure.

Click here to get full coverage of France 98 at the BBC's World Cup Website

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC News
Sir Brian Hayes: "Police will use a light touch"
BBC News
BBC's Eileen Whelan: "The fans were drinking and chanting when one jumped onto a car bonnet"
BBC News
BBC's Andy Tighe: "This is a very sad start to England's World Cup"
BBC News
England fans: "The riot police seemed to be hitting everyone."
Links to more UK stories are at the foot of the page.


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