June 09, 2016

PARIS (AP) The Latest on the European Championship football tournament in France (all times local):



There has already been some trouble in the southern city of Marseille, which is hosting a European Championship match between England and Russia on Saturday.

Trouble flared outside an Irish pub in the Old Port of the southern city just before midnight Thursday, apparently between English fans drinking there and some local people.

Police used tear gas, and riot police with shields arrived to separate the two groups.

Ambulances were seen arriving just after midnight.

England fans were involved in violent clashes with locals in Marseille during the World Cup in 1998.


9:21 p.m.

Football legends Diego Maradona and Pele set aside their differences and made peace Thursday ahead of the European Championships.

Both South American rivals embraced at the Palais Royal in Paris in an event dubbed as the ''The Friendship Game,'' a promotional event with a five-on-five match with others retired football stars, including Rio Ferdinand, Clarence Seedorf and Bebeto.

''It is really nice to see him like this, healthy, and being able to join us,'' said Maradona of the 75-year-old Pele, who underwent a hip surgery in January. ''I'm happy that he's fine. We should hang together always. And enough of the fighting, enough of the barbs between us.''

''I want to thank Pele, we know who he is and who he will always be. We need icons like him,'' added the 55-year-old Maradona, who in the past delivered controversial verbal attacks on the Brazilian.

The three-time world champion nodded in agreement: ''This is moment of peace. What we're doing is something for peace and unity. I want to thank my friend Maradona for this opportunity.''


8:40 p.m.

The Paris police chief and France's national SNCF rail company are advising Paris-area commuters to go home early on Friday afternoon, well ahead of the opening European Championship match at 9 p.m., to help avoid clogging the capital's strike-hit rail network.

Michel Cadot, for the Paris police, and Alain Krakovitch of the SNCF, made the appeal at a news conference where extra trains were promised to transport 70,000 fans to and from the Stade de France in good time both before and after host France plays Romania.


6:50 p.m.

France coach Didier Deschamps has his pre-match team talk ready for Friday's European Championship opener against Romania.

''I'm not going to tell you what I'm going to say,'' Deschamps said Thursday at the pre-match news conference. ''But of course it's a special context; it's the opening match and everything that it represents.''

Although players often battle with nerves before such a big game, Deschamps thinks that's a healthy sign.

''You need to have that feeling in the pit of your stomach, that clenched jaw when you walk out onto the pitch,'' said Deschamps, who captained France to World Cup victory in 1998 and Euro success two years later.

France is the favorite against a Romania side more reputed for solid defending, but Deschamps cautioned against pigeon-holing coach Anghel Iordanescu's side.

''They have a solid technical base,'' he said. ''They don't just whack the ball into touch - they know how to use the ball.''


6:10 p.m.

European Championship matches will be scrutinized for racist incidents in stadiums in the most rigorous system seen at a major soccer tournament.

The UEFA-affiliated FARE Network says it will deploy two observers at matches, ensuring they are fluent in the language of the teams and their fans.

The anti-discrimination group says its observers have ''a comprehensive understanding of the fan scene, background social-political issues, and common discriminatory practices in football.''

Information gathered on discriminatory behavior in any of the 10 Euro 2016 stadiums in France will be provided to UEFA to support disciplinary proceedings.

FARE says it observed 118 discriminatory incidents in European soccer in the 2015-16 season having analyzed 804 matches - 217 in the Champions League, 475 in the Europa League and 112 European Championship qualifiers.


4:30 p.m.

Romania coach Anghel Iordanescu is far from overawed at the prospect of playing host France in Friday's European Championship opener.

''We hope to show you that we are a real match for the French side,'' he said through a translator. ''We need to be very clear in our mind what the French are going to do.''

France has won nine of its past 10 matches, but Romania was unbeaten in qualifying with the best defensive record - conceding just two goals in 10 games.

''We've worked with the video analysts to devise a team plan,'' Iordanescu added at a pre-match news conference held at the Stade de France. ''Our plan is to compete on an even footing.''

He anticipates an early onslaught.

''I expect France to begin the match in a rather aggressive fashion,'' he said. ''I'm sure our players are ready to overcome these spells of pressure and domination.''


3:15 p.m.

Strikes have thrown train services to France's national stadium into disarray before the European Championship opening game it hosts on Friday night.

Two overland trains, the RERs B and D, link the Stade de France in Paris' northern suburbs to the city center.

The national SNCF rail company said strikes wiped out two-thirds of RER B trains on Thursday and that six out of 10 trains weren't running on the RER D. It is working on a fallback plan to try to ensure that fans can still use trains to reach the 80,000-seat stadium for France vs. Romania at 9.p.m on Friday.

An underground Metro line to the stadium was running normally and will have extra trains for the game, but is generally crowded at the best of times.


3:05 p.m.

UEFA says all 24 teams taking part in the European soccer championships have arrived in France.

Portugal players were the last to arrive on Thursday, landing at Paris's second airport Orly, where they were greeted by about 200 fans. Portugal players traveled in a plane bearing the name Eusebio, a tribute to the late Portugal striker.

Fernando Santos' squad has set up its training base at the French rugby federation's national center of Marcoussis, in the Paris' outskirts.

Portugal is in Group F and opens its campaign on Tuesday against Iceland in Saint-Etienne.

The Euro starts on Friday at the Stade de France when host France takes on Romania.


11:40 a.m.

Bar and restaurants owners won't be allowed to set up TV screens outside their businesses during the European soccer championship.

The move is aimed at improving security during the tournament, with French authorities expecting fewer people will gather if outdoor screens are banned.

France has been under a state of emergency since last November's coordinated attacks which killed 130 people at a rock concert, on the terraces of bars and restaurants and outside the Stade de France, the stadium where the football tournament will begin on Friday.

Junior minister for sports Thierry Braillard said Thursday that official fan zones are the only outdoor public spaces where screens will be installed.

The ban is expected to annoy bar owners, especially in the south of France were people spend warm summer evenings outdoors.


11.15 a.m.

Only last Christmas, Marcus Rashford was plotting how to get into Manchester United's under-21 team. Now, he is preparing to potentially play his first game at a major international tournament.

Speaking to the English national team's website in a rare interview, the 18-year-old striker says of his whirlwind rise to prominence: ''It doesn't seem real.''

Rashford made his debut for United in February as a late injury replacement, and scored two goals in a Europa League match. He also scored twice on his Premier League debut three days later, the winner in his first Manchester derby and then netted inside three minutes on his England debut last month, prompting a call-up by England for the European Championship.

Rashford says ''at the end of the season you hear talk and stuff, but to be here now is just amazing.''

England plays Russia on Saturday in their first Group B match.

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