Sheffield man jailed for role in Euro 2016 violence

A fan runs with a flare ahead of the England vs Russia France Euro 2016 match, in Marseille, France. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire
A fan runs with a flare ahead of the England vs Russia France Euro 2016 match, in Marseille, France. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire
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A Sheffield man has been jailed for three months for throwing a bottle at police during football-related violence at Euro 2016 in France.

Psychiatric nurse Ian Hepworth, 41, said he could not remember what happened as he appeared in a Marseille court. But a prosecutor said he knew what he was doing because he ran away afterwards.

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Sheffield football fans condemn thugs after violence between Russian, French and English hooligans at Euro 2016

He was banned from France for two years. Another fan, Alexander Booth, 20 from Huddersfield, was banned for two years and jailed for two months for a similar offence.

Hepworth is one of six British people charged with various offences after three days of fighting in the French city that involved 150 ‘hyper rapid, hyper violent’ Russian hooligans.

But despite the behaviour of the Russian fans, who fought running battles in the streets and also charged at England fans in the Stade Velodrome after Saturday night’s 1-1 opening draw, no Russians have been arrested over the violence.

As a result, England manager Roy Hodgson and captain Wayne Rooney have appealed directly to fans to ‘stay out of trouble’ following Uefa’s threat to expel the team from Euro 2016.

The pair recorded a video, shared by the Football Association on Twitter, in which Hodgson and Rooney urged supporters to do everything in their power to avoid repeats of the violent scenes which marred their time in Marseille.

The England manager pleaded with fans to ensure Uefa’s threats to dismiss England and Russia from the tournament should there be further disturbances ‘are never carried out’, while Rooney asked those without tickets for games not to travel.

Brice Robin, chief Marseille prosecutor, said about 150 Russian hooligans had been involved in the trouble, describing them as ‘hyper violent’ and ‘hyper rapid’. But he said just two Russian fans had been arrested, both for a pitch invasion.

And he said 50-year-old Portsmouth supporter Andrew Bache, known as Pepe, was in a critical condition in a French hospital after being beaten round the head by Russians armed with iron bars.

He said officials had been unable to stop the Russian thugs as they had arrived in the city by train.

Uefa branded the behaviour of both England and Russia fans before and after their 1-1 draw ‘unacceptable’ and said it would not hesitate to impose additional sanctions.

The tournament organiser also opened disciplinary proceedings against the Russian Football Union for alleged crowd disturbances, racist behaviour and the setting-off of fireworks by its fans during the game on Saturday night.

Meanwhile, a Northern Ireland football fan died after a fall in Nice following the team’s 1-0 defeat by Poland.

Darren Rodgers, 25, from Ballymena, Co Antrim, toppled 26ft (8m) over a barrier from a promenade on to a hard pebble beach in the south coast city at around 2am on Monday, police said.

Asked whether David Cameron was concerned that England could be expelled from Euro 2016 over hooliganism, the Prime Minister’s official spokeswoman said: “The Government is deeply concerned by the violence in Marseille at the weekend, including the reports of fans being attacked by rival supporters.

“We welcome Uefa’s decision to launch an investigation into the violence and we will look at how we can support that while engaging with our European partners.”

On the question of whether England or Russia might be disqualified if there is further violence, she said: “That’s a matter for Uefa and for them to judge. They need to make judgments based on what is happening on the ground.”