Senior Russian official says French police are only used to 'gay parades'

A senior Russian police official has claimed his French counterparts were unable to handle Russia's "normal" football fans in Marseille this weekend because they are more used to policing "gay parades."

Vladimir Markin, a spokesman for Russia's equivalent of the FBI, made the comment on his verified Twitter account.

His comment follows an earlier outburst from a senior Russian football official and leading politician, who apparently praised his country's hooligans for defending Russia's honour.

England and Russia fans clashed before and after Saturday's 1-1 draw in Marseille, with the Russian fans charging their English counterparts inside the Stade Velodrome at the final whistle.

UEFA has opened disciplinary proceedings against the RFU, while warning that both Russia and England could be thrown out of Euro 2016 if similar scenes arise.

England manager Roy Hodgson and captain Wayne Rooney have urged their fans to behave themselves in France, however, Igor Lebedev, who sits on the RFU executive committee and is also the deputy chairman of the Russian parliament, said he approved of the supporters' behaviour.

"I don't see anything wrong with fans fighting," the MP from the nationalist Liberal Democratic party wrote on Twitter. "Quite the opposite, the guys did well. Keep it up!

"I don't understand those politicians and officials who are criticising our fans. We should defend them, and then we can sort it out when they come home.

"What happened in Marseille and in other French towns is not the fault of fans, but about the inability of police to organise this kind of event properly."

In a separate interview with Life.ru, Lebedev claimed that Russian fans were provoked by English supporters.

He also said that Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko, who had criticised the nation's fans, would have joined in the clashes if he had been present.

"I personally think that if Mutko was with the fans on the stands and not an official, he would also go and fight the English fans since they were the ones who started it," Lebedev said.

"In nine out of 10 cases, football fans go to games to fight, and that's normal. The lads defended the honour of their country and did not let English fans desecrate our motherland. We should forgive and understand our fans."

Investigative Committee spokesman Markin also retweeted a Russian news story about a call from the Football Supporters' Federation to ban Russia, apparently mocking it as "cute."

Lebedev's Liberal Democrat party is known for its far-right, nationalist views, while LifeNews is considered to be close to the Russian establishment.

With Russia set to host the next World Cup, many football officials are deeply concerned about what appears to be a thriving hooligan culture in the world's largest country, something the numerous pictures and videos posted by Russians on social media sites would appear to suggest.

But unlike Lebedev and Markin, Mutko is taking a more conciliatory line, admitting on Sunday that some of his compatriots had clearly come to Marseille to fight and their actions had "shamed" Russia.