Hooligan clashes in Poland leave 15 injured

Associated Press
Police hold rubber bullet guns as Polish fans clash with police during the Euro 2012 soccer championship group a match between Poland and Russia in downtown Warsaw, Poland , Tuesday, June 12, 2012. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)
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WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Soccer hooligans clashed with rival fans and police before and during Poland's game against bitter rival Russia on Tuesday, leaving 15 injured while more than 100 people were detained.

After scattered fighting in the Polish capital before the match, police fired rubber bullets at a group of fans who attacked them with bottles and stones near an outdoor fan zone in central Warsaw where about 75,000 people were watching the game on huge screens. The game ended in a 1-1 tie.

None of the injured, including a police officer, were in life-threatening condition.

About 5,000 Russian fans marched to the match at the National Stadium to celebrate the Russia Day national holiday. It was seen as provocative to many Poles. The two countries share a difficult history, including decades of control by Moscow over Poland during the Cold War. Many Poles felt authorities shouldn't have allowed the Russians to march as a group in Warsaw given the historical wounds.

One of the most violent incidents occurred during the march. Polish hooligans attacked Russians, who responded violently. The two sides, made up of dozens of men, kicked and beat each other in the face, while flares could be seen exploding in their midst.

Associated Press journalists saw several people lying injured and bleeding on the ground. Poland and Russia fans were also seen fighting and throwing stones outside the stadium.

Near the fan zone, new fighting apparently unrelated to nationalist tensions broke out among Polish fans. Police responded with rubber bullets and tear gas and made some arrests. Some of the men wore Polish team T-shirts and one said he was attacking police simply because he didn't like them.

Before the game, Russian fans clashed with police on a bridge near the National Stadium and police were later seen making arrests. The news agency PAP reported that police used water cannons and tear gas to quell the disturbances.

In another incident, a group of clearly drunken Polish men began fighting among themselves, hitting and kicking each other. Two were on the ground bleeding and police intervened, throwing two more to the ground. The men were holding cans of beer and mumbling and one appeared to be unconscious. An AP reporter witnessed the incident and saw police detain three people.

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Associated Press writers Vanessa Gera in Warsaw and Jim Heintz in Moscow contributed to this report.

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