Brawls erupt before Poland-Russia Euro 2012 duel
WARSAW, June 12, 2012 (AFP) - Brawls erupted between Polish and Russian football fans Tuesday as thousands of Russians marched toward Warsaw's national stadium hours before the countries face off in a key Euro 2012 match.
Police fired tear gas and water cannon on unruly fans and arrested several people, according to an AFP correspondent.
He said police officers with dogs and rubber-bullet guns surrounded the stadium, where the highly charged Russia-Poland match will begin at 1845 GMT.
Sandwiched by a large police presence, the Russian fans began making their way toward the Poniatowski bridge spanning the Vistula river shortly after 15 GMT chanting "We came to win" and "Russia, Russia."
Several dozen Poles hurled firecrackers and taunts in their direction. The Russians responded by throwing bottles, before riot police separated the two groups.
Fresh skirmishes broke out near the stadium between Polish and Russian fans and the police doused the hooligans with water cannon and tear gas.
"We are ready to fight. We will win 3-1," Moscow resident Iouri Kharlamov told AFP.
According to Polish authorities, around 12,000 Russian football supporters are expected at match in Warsaw, mainly at the stadium and in the fanzone in the city center.