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Police arrest seven Serbian fans as violence flares

Staff WritersAAP
German riot police keep England and Serbia fans apart before the Euro 2024 match in Gelsenkirchen. (EPA PHOTO)
Camera IconGerman riot police keep England and Serbia fans apart before the Euro 2024 match in Gelsenkirchen. (EPA PHOTO) Credit: AAP

Seven Serbian fans were arrested after violent clashes in Gelsenkirchen ahead of their Euro 2024 opener against England.

Social media footage showed men throwing chairs at each other outside a restaurant festooned with Serbian flags. One group quickly left the scene as riot officers arrived and wrestled at least one man to the ground.

Some people were injured, with former England striker Stan Collymore posting a picture of a man covered in blood on the social media site X accompanied by the message: "Police vans en masse in Gelsenkirchen centre now. Kicking off in tiny groups."

A Serbian fan told The Associated Press that a group of people had thrown glasses and stones outside a downtown bar where he and others were sitting together drinking beer.

"There was a clash and we are fine. So that's it, we are going to the game, we hope we will win. This is about football," said the man, who identified himself only as Vladimir and said he was from the Serbian capital, Belgrade.

Gelsenkirchen police confirmed to the PA news agency that all the arrests were of Serbian citizens. "There was a confrontation between Serbian and English football fans in the city of Gelsenkirchen," a spokesperson said.

"The two fan groups were separated. Seven people were taken into custody. There was also a complaint of grievous bodily harm. The background to this is still unclear."

There have also been further reports and videos circulating of England fans signing '10 German bombers', defying warnings from German police.

The match between Serbia and England has been classified as high risk by police over concerns about potential fan violence. Both sets of supporters have a reputation for causing trouble before and during matches.

About 20,000 England fans and 10,000 from Serbia were expected to converge on the city for the game. Only low-alcohol beer is being served in the Gelsenkirchen stadium in an attempt to reduce the potential for problems.

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