Euro 2012: Russia blames Poles for football clashes

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Media captionThe BBC's Alex Capstick reported from the march as scuffles broke out around him

The head of Russia's Football Union, Sergei Fursenko, has put the blame for clashes between Russian and Polish fans on Tuesday firmly on the Poles.

"Polish ultras are known for their disobedience," he said.

The clashes erupted as thousands of Russian fans marched through Warsaw to mark Russia Day, hours before their Euro 2012 match against Poland.

Out of 184 people arrested during the evening, 157 were Polish and 24 were Russian, Polish police said.

Mr Fursenko defended Russian fans, saying they would be given "help and protection".

"Not a single fan will be denied our support," he told Russia's Sport Express website.

"As far as I know, they behaved well during the march. Polish fans have much bigger problems," he said.

"Polish ultras are known for their disobedience. So such clashes occur."

BBC reporters said they saw Polish fans, intent on violence, attempt to attack the Russian marchers.

Some Poles viewed the march - which was officially sanctioned by Polish authorities - as a provocation, given the historic animosity between Russia and Poland.

There were reports of a separate incident, in which masked Polish fans allegedly attacked Russian fans in a Warsaw cafe.

Footage also showed Russian fans involved in fighting.

Tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannon were used to disperse fans at the end of the march.

There were reports that between 11 and 24 people were injured in the fighting, though authorities said no lives were at risk.

'Sincere apologies'

Polish newspapers expressed shame and regret over the clashes.

On the Wprost weekly's website, Marcin Pienkowski said "it was supposed to be about beautiful Slavic friendship" but that, because of Polish fans' abuse of the Russian visitors, "this is the first time in my life I'm ashamed of being a Pole".

On Polish forums and social networks many Poles expressed regret.

The popular Gazeta Wyborcza daily posted a comment which read: "On behalf of all great Polish guys and gals, please take our sincere apologies for such idiots attacking you for no reason. You are always welcome here..."

The match ended in a 1-1 draw, which leaves both teams hopeful of progressing to the quarter-finals.

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