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Monday, June 15, 1998 Published at 09:51 GMT 10:51 UK


England fans provoked - FA

England supporters were under "extreme provocation"

English Football Association chief Graham Kelly said he was "disgusted" by the behaviour of English supporters in Marseille - but added that they were provoked into violence.

"Nobody's making excuses," he told a news conference following violence in the French city.

"We are only here to give you the full picture as we see it. There was some provocation at some stage."

'Extreme provocation'

Sir Brian Hayes, the FA's security adviser, added that fans "from Arab backgrounds" put English supporters "under extreme provocation". This, combined with heavy drinking by the English, triggered the violence, he said.

Sir Brian added: "Marseille as a venue was always going to make it difficult. There was always the potential for trouble."

[ image: Fans were caught up in local tension]
Fans were caught up in local tension
Kevin Miles of the Football Supporter's Association said England fans were caught up in tension between locals and French riot police.

"What happened last night was a war on the streets of Marseille between the local Arab population and the CRS for their own reasons about French politics, not English football.

"English fans have been caught in the middle of that with no protection from the police.

Good atmosphere

"Ninety-nine percent of England supporters have come here in exactly the right spirit. They have interacted well with the local population and the Tunisian fans, we've had the swapping of shirts, a really good atmosphere.

Mr Miles added: "We are treated as hooligans by the French police regardless of our conduct.

"We are also targeted by the local Tunisian population - victims of robberies and beatings up because to them we are the rich tourists who buy tickets at inflated prices on the black market. We have money that they haven't got."

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