MARSEILLE, France – Violence erupted in Marseille's Old Port district for the third straight day, both before and after a European Championship soccer match between England and Russia on Saturday.
Police fired tear gas and water cannons at rival fans who were rioting around the city, a largely unsuccessful attempt to rein in violence that authorities said left at least five people injured. Some fans walked through the city bare-chested and with blood dripping from head wounds.
French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said one British citizen was "seriously injured" in the clashes.
"Once again, as over the last 30 years, an international football competition has been the scene of clashes between violent people claiming to be supporters of their national team," Cazeneuve said in a statement.
Amid the broken beer bottles and gray clouds of tear gas that filled the air during the afternoon, families and tourists walked around the picturesque port, sometimes forced to skirt around lines of riot police leaning on their shields. Groups of people watched the chaos from the rear decks of two gleaming white yachts.
TV footage showed fans throwing chairs yanked from restaurant terraces and scuffling on a staircase, where one man was seen kicking another one down the stairs. Shortly before the match kicked off, a group of Russia fans ran toward England supporters and started fighting outside the stadium. Riot police fired a water cannon at them and quickly broke up the scuffles.
After the England-Russia match, which finished 1-1, the atmosphere remained tense at the Old Port, with police repeatedly firing tear gas at groups of fans, including a large cluster of French people. However, there were far fewer people near the port than in the past two evenings.
UEFA, the governing body of European soccer, also condemned the fans, saying "people engaging in such violent acts have no place in football."
The match itself passed off without incident in the stands until moments after the final whistle, when a large group of Russia fans stormed a section of England supporters behind the goal. The Russians threw objects and broke through a line of stewards, forcing the England fans — including young children — to flee for the exits in panic, with some having to vault railings to escape.
Each side blamed the other for provoking the violence during the day, and England supporters complained that the French riot police did not do enough to halt the fighting.
Alexander Shprygin, head of the All-Russian Fans' Union, a body with backing from the Russian government and soccer authorities, told The Associated Press by telephone that the police had broken up fights between English and Russian supporters.
"The reason (for the fighting) was that the English are drinking a lot and are behaving badly," Shprygin said.
Fans of Russian clubs Lokomotiv Moscow and Zenit St. Petersburg were "active" in the fighting, Shprygin said, but would not comment on whether a group of Russian fans had attacked English supporters.
It was the second straight European Championship at which Russia fans have been involved in rioting and comes two years before the country is due to host the World Cup.
Regional police chief Laurent Nunez told French media that five people had been wounded and six people arrested during the fighting.
Two television stations reported that one of those wounded had suffered a heart attack during one of the melees, although they gave no further details.
The clashes brought back memories of bloody fighting between England hooligans, Tunisia fans and locals of North African origin during the World Cup in 1998. Then, hundreds of England fans were involved in violent beach-front clashes with locals in Marseille over two days around England's match against Tunisia, prompting a headline in a local paper: "Go home hooligans!"