Russian President Vladimir Putin has appeared to laugh at a group of fans who were attacked by a group of 150 Russian fans during the Euro 2016 tournament in Marseille, France.
According to Reuters, Putin was speaking at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum on Friday, where he reportedly denied that around 200 Russian fans were responsible for the violence against English fans last Saturday at the Stade Velodrome.
“The fighting between Russian fans with the English, that is a disgrace,” said Putin. “I don’t know how 200 Russian fans could beat several thousand of the British.”
This comment was reportedly met with laughs from the audience. He went on to add that there many problems in professional sports.
“The European football cup is taking place at the moment, but I believe that people are paying more attention to the fan fights,” said Putin. “I guess the responsibility for such acts should be as personalized as possible.”
He continued, “And the way we treat the violators has to be the same. They have to all be equally treated.”
Putin also spoke about reaching out to Europe and make amends following the crisis in Ukraine, as reported by The Guardian. He called out European leaders to show flexibility because he claimed that European business wants to work with his country.
The Independent previously reported that the violence at Euro 2016 left around 35 people injured including four in serious condition and one English fan who suffered a brain hemorrhage and concussion. Most of the injured were English. Twenty people were arrested, while 10 people were facing an immediate trial.
Last Tuesday, France deported 20 Russian fans after the authorities had accused them of being involved in the violence. Three other fans were convicted of offenses related to the violence and received one to two year prison terms.
On Sunday, the Kremlin had denied any involvement after senior officials for the British government claimed that it had approved of the fans being attacked. The officials initially said that the Russian fans’ actions were “a continuation of President Vladimir Putin’s ‘hybrid warfare’ against the West.”
“This is yet another example… of anti-Russian hysteria,” said Dmitry Peskov, a Kremlin spokesman.
Along with Vladimir Putin, Oasis rocker Liam Gallagher also weighed in on the incident, according to The Independent. Last week, he posted a tweet aimed at the Russian fans that read: “Russian hooligans skintight shorts bumbags batty boy muscles ha ha. I’d be more worried bout getting me arse pinched.”
Gallagher’s tweet was deemed insensitive following the deadly shootings in Orlando last week. Antony Cotton, a star of the British soap opera Coronation Street described the tweet as “ugly and upsetting.” Gallagher would later apologize for the controversial tweet and one of his representatives added it was taken out of context.
The London Evening Standard reported that more than 600 additional police officers will be on hand for a match between Russia and Wales in the French town of Toulouse tomorrow. There were already 1,500 officers who were scheduled to work the event. Following the violence and attack of fans in both Marseille and in Lille, tomorrow’s match has since been described as “high risk.”
“We’ve all witnessed the scenes that happened in Marseille. It was shocking. The actions are deplorable,” said Wayne Nash, national security officer for the Welsh FA.
[Photo by Anna Sergeeva/Getty Images]