Top Russian football official Igor Lebedev praised Russia fans for fighting England fans at a match in Marseille over the weekend.
Lebedev told news website life.ru that the fans defended Russia’s honor and should be forgiven, despite the UEFA executive committee threatening to disqualify both England and Russia from the Euro 2016 tournament.
“In nine out of 10 cases, football fans go to games to fight, and that’s normal,” Lebedev said. “The lads defended the honor of their country and did not let English fans desecrate our motherland. We should forgive and understand our fans.”
England fans fled the Velodrome stadium after the 1–1 tie upon being attacked by a group of Russian fans. Russia has since been charged with crowd disturbances, racist behavior and setting off fireworks.
“I don’t understand those politicians and officials who are criticizing our fans. We should defend them, and then we can sort it out when they come home,” Lebedev continued on Twitter. “What happened in Marseille and in other French towns is not the fault of fans, but about the inability of police to organize this kind of event properly.”
Russia will play its next match against Slovakia on Wednesday, and England will face Wales on Thursday.