Brits: The shame old story
These were the shameful scenes as English and Russian hooligans left Euro 2016 resembling a warzone after rioting in the streets of Marseille last night.
French cops braced to tackle the threat of Islamic terror found themselves instead in running battles with rival fans ahead of their game in the port city.
It was the third day of trouble between the sets of supporters that have overshadowed the festival of football.
Riot police had to separate the rival fans with tear gas, scattering thousands through the streets.
As smoke filled the air, glass, litter and empty beer bottles were left littering the ground.
One middle-aged England fan was knocked unconscious after Russian hooligans – some wielding knives – charged at the England supporters amid sickening scenes.
It has made the job of police who are trying to protect fans from likely terror strikes more difficult.
Yesterday the Sunday World witnessed the ring of steel which will greet Irish fans in Paris tomorrow.
These are the heavily-armed police who will strive to keep our fans safe against threats from ISIS terrorists.
More than 20,000 Irish fans will flock to the Stade de France for Ireland’s opening game against Sweden in Euro 2016.
The Sunday World team got up close and personal with machine-gun-toting cops, who are taking no nonsense after three suicide bombers blew themselves up at the same stadium last November during a night of unprecedented terror.
Many are armed with sub machine guns and rifles which can fire an astonishing 750 rounds a minute.
When we attended Friday’s opening Euro 2016 game at the stadium between France and Romania, we had our bags searched twice and were also frisked on entering the stadium.
Overhead a police helicopter kept watch in what is a no-fly zone for other aircraft. On the ground dozens of sniffer dogs were used to help with suspicious objects.
Irish fans have been warned to try to be at the ground four hours before kick-off, which is 5pm Irish time, given the security precautions and also transport delays.
Our man Eugene in Paris with well-prepared police
The Department of Foreign Affairs is advising fans to look at its website and also its Twitter account to look for updates on potential problems.
While there is generally huge security at such tournaments there is extra vigilance following the horrendous atrocities in Paris on November 13 last year, which claimed the lives of 130 innocent people.
Our team visited the Bataclan theatre, where 89 rock fans were slaughtered by ISIS terrorists in a gun and bomb attack. The boarded up music hall now looks forlorn in an otherwise busy street.
We also visited Le Petit Cambodge cafe, where 14 diners were mown down as they enjoyed their meals.
But like the rest of Paris, this little restaurant has bravely got back on its feet and has defiantly told ISIS ‘you will not stop us’.
The Irish team are staying in Versailles and the hotel they are based on is under lockdown and under heavy armed guard.
Northern Ireland play their first game against Poland in Nice today. An estimated 30,000 of their fans are traveling.
The streets of Marseille were still tense last night as gangs of Russian hooligans stormed into the city centre to take on England fans.
Some of the mobs who have been flooding into the city were seen arriving in convertible sports cars from the large and extremely rich expat Russian community living on the Riviera.
Wearing mainly black, and covering their faces, the Russian ultras could be seen attacking drunken English fans.
One hooligan said England fans were “too old, fat and drunk” to put up a decent fight against them.
He warned England supporters: “In terms of football violence, Russia is the undisputed leader across the whole of Europe. There is some interest in the English, but no-one considers them real competitors.”
On Friday night flares were lit and officers deployed tear gas in an effort to disperse the troublemakers.
England fans chanted “no surrender to the IRA” and sang songs about German bombers being shot down.
Reacting to the violence, shadow home secretary Andy Burnham tweeted: “When you think of the terror threat & everything the French are dealing with, it makes the behaviour of these England ‘fans’ even more embarrassing.”
Most of the scenes of violence caught on camera and broadcast around the world depicted English gangs shouting and throwing chairs outside the Irish bar O’Malley’s.
The manager of the bar where English fans were involved in running clashes with locals on Friday claimed that French troublemakers from outside Marseilles had deliberately provoked the violence.
Anthony Heraud said there was “a problem with people from outside Marseilles”.
“They come for provocation,” he said. “The English fans were cool, no fights. It was over in three minutes.”