France bans alcohol near European Championship venues, fan zones

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UEFA has warned England and Russia they could face disqualification from Euro 2016 if fan violence continues.

The French government announced on Sunday the ban of all alcohol around any Euro 2016 stadiums and fan zones after an eruption of fan violence over the past three days.

Marseille in particular has been the scene of a number of incidents involving drunken fans from England and Russia — as well as French locals — in and around the Stade Velodrome for the two nations’ opening Group B game in the competition.

“I have asked for all necessary measures to be taken to prohibit the sale, consumption and transport of alcoholic drinks in sensitive areas on match days and the day before, and on days when fan zones are open,” Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said of the ban.

Local officials will be allowed to decide which areas are “sensitive,” the ministry has said. Cazeneuve said the ban will include public areas, as well as shops, while bars and cafes can also be barred from serving drinks on their terraces housed in containers that can be used as missiles.

Authorities deployed more than 1,200 riot police to quiet unrest in Marseille’s Vieux Port area, which began when hundreds of fans — many influenced by alcohol — started throwing bottles and chairs at each other.

“The events which took place in Marseille yesterday evening are unacceptable. Unacceptable for the authorities, unacceptable for society, unacceptable for football lovers,” Cazeneuve added.

The European Championship in France has been plagued by violent incidents involving fans

Lens, in the north, has already banned sales of bottles of hard liquor and restricted other alcohol sales.

Additionally, France’s government vowed to expel any foreign football hooligans, saying their violence during the competition is distracting police from the fight against terrorism.

Cazeneuve said he instructed local officials to issue expulsion orders for “all foreign supporters whose behavior disturbs public order.”

“Their actions distract the police from their primary mission, which is to protect our country from the terrorist threat,” he said.

France is hosting the 24-nation tournament while still in a state of emergency following terror attacks that killed 130 people in Paris in November.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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