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

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
News
videoJapanese prepare for the afterlife by testing out coffins
Arts and Entertainment
Harrison Ford attends Blade Runner at Target Presents AFI's Night at the Movies at ArcLight Cinemas on 24 April, 2013 in Hollywood, California
film... but Ridley Scott won't direct
Sport
Hughes is hit by a bouncer from Sean Abbott
cricketStephen Brenkley on batsman's tragic flaw that led to critical injury
Sport
Dejected England players applaud the fans following their team's 3-0 defeat
football

Extras
indybest
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

Recruitment Genius: Property Manager

£25000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This independent, growing Sales...

Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer

£16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Multi-skilled graphic designer ...

Austen Lloyd: Court of Protection Solicitor

£30000 - £50000 per annum + EXCELLENT: Austen Lloyd: Court of Protection Solic...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Supervisor / Housewares / Furniture

£17000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

24-Hour party person

Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

A taste for rebellion

US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

Colouring books for adults

How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

Call me Ed Mozart

Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire
10 best stocking fillers for foodies

Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning
Phil Hughes head injury: He had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Phil Hughes had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Prolific opener had world at his feet until Harmison and Flintoff bounced him
'I have an age of attraction that starts as low as four': How do you deal with a paedophile who has never committed a crime?

'I am a paedophile'

Is our approach to sex offenders helping to create more victims?
How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

From a lost deposit to victory

Green Party on the march in Bristol
Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

Winter blunderlands

Putting the grot into grotto
'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital