England fan attacked before start of Euro 2012 match

 

As England's opening
game of Euro 2012 got under way, the travelling army of Three Lions fans
were in strong voice in and around the stadium.

The first chant of "En-ger-land" could be heard in the city centre this afternoon as hundreds gathered at a bar doing a roaring trade opposite a giant statue of Russian revolutionary Vladimir Lenin before making their way to the 50,000-seater Donbass Arena to watch England take on France.

Although the city seemed peaceful, in what is believed to have been an isolated incident, an off-duty British policeman received minor injuries when he was attacked on his way to the stadium.

Pc David Heasman, 45, from Norfolk Police, said he was punched and kicked by a group of four men who he said claimed to be "Russian mafia", and received a cut to the ear but did not require hospital treatment.

A handful of British police officers were on patrol around the bar in the city centre, while their Ukrainian counterparts kept watch from across the road as flags of St George were hung from a marquee.

Eighteen British officers have been deployed in Ukraine and six in Poland - led by the Association of Chief Police Officers - to help up to 8,000 local armed police deal with fans at games.

Some supporters proved their dedication by enduring a sweltering 13-hour overnight train journey from the capital Kiev.

Others enjoyed more comfort, with hundreds arriving in the industrial city of Donetsk by charter flights which left London earlier today.

The number of travelling England fans will be the lowest at a tournament for many years, with around 3,000 tickets sold through the official supporters' club for tonight's game.

But the lack of demand meant that fans in Donetsk were able to buy spare tickets from other supporters without an inflated price.

Dex Marshall, 52, from Uckfield, East Sussex, said: "No one is paying more than face value.

"There are plenty of England fans with extra tickets that they won't be able to get rid of.

"I know people who haven't come because their wives and partners were worried by the racism and hooligan stories."

Joss Orpin, 23, was among a group from Leicester who arrived in Donetsk at 8am after a marathon train ride from Kiev.

He said: "It was really hot and they didn't have any windows in the cabins.

"They said there was air conditioning but it didn't work."

France went into the match as strong favourites after a 21-game unbeaten run, while England are missing Wayne Rooney through suspension and have suffered a number of injuries to key players.

The weather could also be a factor, with experts predicting maximum temperatures of 30C (86F).

Assistant Chief Constable Andy Holt, who is leading the British police contingent in Donetsk, said there have been no reports of disorder by England fans, but some may suffer from excessive alcohol intake in the "red hot" conditions.

He said: "There's been no problems. There are a few at the campsite that I don't think are going to make it to the game because of drink.

"You've either got to have the constitution of an ox or you're not going to make it."

He said the number of England shirts being worn by people of other nations - especially Russian - presented a challenge to his officers.

He said: "What I don't want to do is have England fans mislabelled, misidentified because it's some other nationality wearing an England shirt.

"You can imagine that we will be very careful to ensure that if there is any sort of problem we identify the provenance of who we're dealing with."

Pc Heasman, a married father of two, said he was walking to the stadium when a group of men ran up behind the group of England fans he was with, shouting "we are the Russian mafia".

"I turned round and one of them punched me in the face," he said.

"I fell to the ground and I felt two kicks to the head. It hurt.

"I feel upset because it's been a nice atmosphere until now.

"The police are out in force but they're not there when you need them.

"They're just standing on show on street corners."

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
news
New Articles
tvDownton Abbey Christmas special
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald in the Doctor Who Christmas special
tvForget the rumours that Clara Oswald would be quitting the Tardis
Arts and Entertainment
Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi showing a small mascot shaped like a vagina
art
Life and Style
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
The Queen delivers her Christmas message
newsTwitter reacts to Her Majesty's Christmas Message
Sport
sport
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketing Controller (Financial Services)

£70000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketi...

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all