Russia striker Artem Dzyuba accused the British media of refusing to accept culpability from English fans for the violent scenes in Marseille last weekend.
UEFA has issued a fine and suspended disqualification from the tournament against Russia, after a number of fans charged a section of English support inside the Stade Velodrome following the 1-1 draw on Saturday.
Those scenes were preceded by violent clashes between Russian, English and local hooligans in the old port region of the city, which led to six individuals facing criminal charges.
Speaking ahead of Russia’s Group B clash with Slovakia in Lille, Dzyuba claimed England’s media have viewed supporters from their own country “like angels” and suggested a political agenda could be at play.
“We don’t want to be disqualified, we understand that things happen but this is the 20th century,” he said when asked about the UEFA sanction, with Russia’s Football Union having already confirmed they will not appeal.
“There is a fine and a suspended penalty so our supporters must focus on supporting us. We want to play in this competition, we’re happy here and it would be a stupid thing to go out.
“I don’t understand this kind of reaction from the British media, this impression that English supporters are like angels and behaving themselves. You have to be objective, there are two parts in every conflict. It’s 50-50. Everyone has to communicate with fans. I don’t say that only Russians are at fault.
“We saw fragments of the videos. We don’t want any politics in football, we want to focus on the game with Slovakia. This is not a street-fighting championship. We’ve already said several times that we hope our fans will stay within a legal framework. There are other fans in these clashes, too. But, please, let’s focus on football.”
When asked to clarify his comments given that French authorities in Marseille announced that 150 Russians hooligans had prepared for “ultra-rapid, ultra-violent action”, Dzyuba responded: “No one knows what exactly happened. You get one [piece of] information, I get another.
“We don’t know what happened on the streets but when the Russian national anthem was played and English supporters were shouting, this was not ethical. And all the gestures we received when we made our way to the stadium. Some people come to watch football and others to behave as badly as possible.
“I can’t affirm it but it’s probable [that criticism of Russia is politically motivated]. British media talk about the World Cup in 2018, that they have to take it from Russia. So I have thoughts in my mind sometimes.”