PARIS (AP) — Russia will be disqualified from the European Championship if there is more violence by the team’s fans inside stadiums in France.
A UEFA disciplinary panel made the ruling Tuesday after Russians charged at a section of England supporters after the team’s opening match in Marseille.
Russia will be expelled from the tournament if its fans attack rival fans or stadium security staff at its two remaining Group B matches, or later at Euro 2016 if the team advances.
Russia’s “disqualification is suspended until the end of the tournament,” UEFA said. “Such suspension will be lifted if incidents of a similar nature (crowd disturbances) happen inside the stadium at any of the remaining matches of the Russian team during the tournament.”
Russia plays Slovakia in Lille on Wednesday and Wales in Toulouse next Monday.
Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said “the punishment is excessive” and described the 150,000 euro ($169,000) fine imposed by UEFA as “huge.”
“There is no sense in appealing,” said Mutko, who is also president of the Russian soccer federation, in comments reported by Russian news agency R-Sport.
The incidents with Russian hooligans come two years before the country hosts the 2018 World Cup in 11 cities. Mutko is head of tournament’s Russian organizing committee and a member of the FIFA ruling council.
A spokesman for Russian president Vladimir Putin condemned the “rampages in Marseille,” while noting that fans from other countries were involved in disorder in France.
“It’s absolutely unacceptable, and we certainly expect our citizens to respect the country’s laws,” Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Tuesday in a conference call.
UEFA fined the Russian soccer federation for charges relating to crowd disturbances, fans aiming racial insults at black England players and setting off fireworks during the game.
UEFA can punish soccer bodies only for the actions of their ticketed fans in and around stadiums.
England’s soccer body faced no disciplinary case after Saturday’s match, though UEFA’s executive committee warned both federations it had separate power to disqualify either for a repeat of violence.
Russia and England played to a 1-1 draw amid rising tension after several days of clashes between rival fans, French youths and local police.
Though England fans were at the center of the first skirmishes, the violence levels increased when Russian fans arrived.
After the final whistle in Marseille on Saturday, a group of Russia fans in a poorly segregated area behind one goal stormed a section of England supporters. The Russians threw objects and broke through a line of stewards, forcing the England fans — including young children— to flee for the exits in panic, with some having to vault railings to escape.
A prosecutor in Marseille on Monday blamed “highly trained” Russian thugs for the worst of the violence in the cobbled streets of the city’s Old Port and around the Stade Velodrome.
Russian fans have caused the worst violence inside stadiums for the second straight European Championship. Among the incidents at Euro 2012, stadium security staff in Wroclaw, Poland, were assaulted by Russian fans at the team’s opening 4-1 victory over the Czech Republic.
Four years ago, UEFA deferred a punishment of ordering Russia to play three home Euro 2016 qualifying games in empty stadiums. The stadium ban would have been activated if there was any fan violence during qualifying matches.
UEFA had initially threatened Russia with a six-point deduction in Euro 2016 qualifying but that was removed when the Russian Football Union appealed to UEFA. A fine of 120,000 euros ($150,000) was maintained.
Also in 2012, UFEA fined the Russian soccer body 30,000 euros ($37,500) for fans making monkey noises as racial insults aimed at Czech Republic defender Theodor Gebre Selassie, who is black.
In a separate Euro 2012 incident, UEFA charged and fined Russia for a fan carrying a national flag across the field after a 1-1 draw against Poland. That heavily policed match in Warsaw was played on June 12 — Russia’s national day — after fights in the city as rival fans went to the stadium.
Russia will host the next two major global competitions for FIFA, which has no jurisdiction over European events. Before the World Cup, Russia will host the eight-nation Confederations Cup next June as a test tournament with St. Petersburg as the main base of four host cities.