Football fan and director of the Melton Learning Hub David Cowell described seeing ‘hundreds of England supporters scampering for safety’ as violence broke out at the ‘Fan Walk’ in Marseille before the Three Lions’ first Euro 2016 group match against Russia.
David was over in France for the weekend with his brother, Lee, and his two friends to see the game. They were in an open-sided tent/marquee, enjoying the pre-match atmosphere, when the mayhem started.
David said: “Before you knew it there were showers of glass coming from nowhere and flying through the tent. “The noise of glass shattering was phenomenal.
“There was tear gas everywhere, filling the tent. You just had to run and get out. All the fans were running for their lives. As we ran there was a bunch of people running after the fans and picking them off.
“One of my friends was repeatedly punched while he was on the floor. He had a black eye and couldn’t watch the game.
“There was another man with a six-year-old child who was also getting repeatedly kicked. It was sickening.”
David said the attackers were all wearing plain clothes so it wasn’t clear where they were from.
He said: “There were so many people out on the street. At the time we thought it might have been England fans who had turned on each other but it wasn’t.”
Despite the shocking scenes David and his group made it to the stadium to see the England versus Russia match.
David added: “It was only really after the match that it started sinking in what had happened. We didn’t see any trouble after the match. apart from what happened inside the stadium with the Russian fans. Outside the stadium I didn’t see any England fans causing any trouble.
“This was the first European Championships I’d been to. The atmosphere inside the stadium was amazing but it was marred by the violence.
“It hasn’t put me off going to watch England play but it scares those close to you. As soon as I got back home from France my wife, Katie, said ‘you’re never going again’.
“I didn’t tell them we’d got caught up in the trouble until I got back home because I didn’t want to worry them.”
England play their second group match against Wales today (Thursday). Kick-off is at 2pm.