Vladimir Putin has condemned the hooliganism involving Russian and English fans that has marred Euro 2016, but suggested he cannot comprehend how his outnumbered countrymen “beat up several thousand English”.
Trouble flared on the streets of Marseille and inside the Stade Velodrome before, during and after Russia’s Group B opener against England last Saturday.
A group of 20 Russians, including the leader of the All-Russia Supporters Union Alexander Shprygin, have also been deported from France as a result of their role in the incidents.
Speaking at Russia’s annual economic forum in Saint Petersburg on Friday, Putin criticised the Russian hooligans but also poked fun at the English fans involved.
“The fighting between Russian fans with the English, that is a disgrace,” Putin said.
“But I truly don’t understand how 200 of our fans could beat up several thousand English.
“In any case, the treatment by law enforcement should be the same for all violators.”
“I hope that there are sober-minded people among them who really love sport and understand that any violation is not supporting their favourite team but damaging to the team and to sport.”
Cologne police confirmed on Thursday that five Russia fans were taken into custody after two Spanish tourists and their German companion were attacked.