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English Soccer Fans, Police Clash

June 14, 1998

MARSEILLE, France (AP) _ For the second straight day, English World Cup fans were at the center of violence in the city’s Old Port, clashing with Tunisian fans and riot police Sunday on the eve of an England-Tunisia match that has prompted beefed-up security.

Several hundred English soccer fans threw bottles and beer cans at police with helmets and shields, who fired back with tear gas. Scattered fights also broke out between British and Tunisian fans, police said.

No injuries were reported. Authorities said they arrested about 20 people.

There was no immediate explanation for the new clashes Sunday afternoon, though police blamed the violence on drunkenness, not hooligans.

English fans pelted police overnight after a motorist who tried to force through a crowd struck and slightly injured one of the fans.

Of four English fans arrested in that clash, a 20-year-old Liverpool railroad employee remained in custody to face charges in court Monday for allegedly attacking police.

On Sunday, dozens of officers patrolled the port and down the Canebiere, the city’s main avenue, where sun-drenched cafes brimmed with flag-waving English fans who chanted, drank and talked to the locals throughout the day. Beaches were filled with tourists, locals and topless sunbathers.

Ten-thousand English fans were expected at Monday’s match, but about 2,000 others were expected in town to look for tickets on the black market, where prices were reportedly running as high as $330.

Authorities planned to deploy almost 2,000 officers, including about 100 elite CRS national police. Since the beginning of the World Cup last Wednesday, submachine gun-toting troops on anti-terrorist duty have also patrolled public areas.

Update hourly