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Hooligans Clash Before Poland-Russia Game


Russian soccer fans walk protected by Polish riot police in Warsaw.

Russian soccer fans walk protected by Polish riot police in Warsaw.

Soccer fans have clashed in Warsaw despite a massive Polish police presence ahead of a highly anticipated Euro 2012 match between rivals Poland and Russia.

In Warsaw, during a tense buildup ahead of the emotionally charged Poland-Russia game, some 5,000 Russian fans marched toward the National Stadium in celebration of Russia Day -- an official holiday in Russia.
Despite the massive police presence, several incidents occurred, both during the march and elsewhere in the city.
There were reports of injuries, and at least three people were reportedly arrested.
Exploding Flares

In what appeared to be the most violent incident, Polish hooligans were seen attacking marching Russians, who responded violently.
Flares could be seen exploding in their midst. Several people lay injured and bleeding on the ground, with one of them appearing to be seriously hurt.
Russian fans also clashed separately with police on a bridge near the National Stadium.
Organizers say about 10,000 Russian and 30,000 Polish ticket holders are expected at the game.
The two countries share a troubled common history, which included fighting wars against one another and occupying parts of each other's territories.
Many Poles think authorities should not have allowed the Russians to march as a group in Warsaw given the historical background.
Russian fans appeared sure of their team's superiority, after it beat the Czech Republic 4-1 in their first game on June 9.

"The Polish team is very strong, but we think our team is much better, although Poland has very good players in the German Bundesliga. Lewandowski is very good, very good," a Russian fan named Shulkov said.
A Polish fan named Darek was confident his side would prevail: "If we prepare our defense for the Russia game and if we counterattack, then we will be able to even win."
Poland officials have said at least 6,000 officers would be on duty in Warsaw during Euro 2012, considered a huge security challenge by the Polish authorities.
In the other Group A game on June 12, the Czech Republic beat Greece 2-1 in Wroclaw.
Based on reporting by AP, AFP, and Reuters

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