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Dirty Tackle

Russian fans declare Poland theirs, fight hosts in the streets

Brooks Peck
Dirty Tackle

Russia fans unfurl giant "This is Russia" banner...in Warsaw, Poland. (Getty)

Russia and Poland played out a 1-1 draw in perhaps the most feared match of Euro 2012 from a security standpoint. The two countries have a long history of military invasions and occupations and supporters from both sides seemed intent on continuing those hostile relations. Prior to the match (which happened to occur on Russia Day -- Russia's independence day), police fired rubber bullets and fans from both sides were involved in various fights around Warsaw, resulting over 180 arrests and 24 injuries.

From the AP:

There were a number of [...] incidents [...] which came as about 5,000 Russia fans waving their country's flag marched to the stadium in a show of patriotism seen as provocative to many Poles.

The march was considered a huge security challenge and police were bracing for possibly more trouble after the match.

The two countries share a difficult history, including decades of control by Moscow over Poland during the Cold War. Many Poles felt the Polish authorities should not have allowed the Russians to march as a group in Warsaw given the historical wounds.

Inside the stadium things were decidedly calmer, although Russian fans did still get their point across by unfurling a giant "This is Russia" banner before kickoff.

Video of the various skirmishes on the streets this way...

(more...)

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