You have to read this British guy's amazing first hand account of the Marseille violence
After a second night of clashes between English fans and French riot police, one British journalist has shared his experience of the violence in Marseille, including witnessing one English fan "dropkicking a man off a motorcycle".
Iain Macintosh, a football reporter for ESPNFC and The Set Pieces, recounted his thoughts on his Facebook page, describing what it was like to be on the scene on Thursday and Friday nights, and arguing that, from what be could make out, these clashes don't mean "that the bad old days are back".
His full post reads:
"Well, that wasn't as pleasant an evening as Thursday night in The Wine Caves of the Blue Parrot. Call me a wet, liberal pinko crybaby, but there's something about inhaling tear gas that really tarnishes a chap's night.
"It's been an odd day. Principally because, despite being in the middle of some it, I still don't feel as if I know precisely what *it* was or, more pertinently, *why* it was. A scan of my Twitter timeline shows that a number of people back in England seem to be far more sure of the details. For my part, I can only say what I saw.
"I saw hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of English football supporters enjoying the hospitality of Marseille and behaving impeccably.
"I saw approximately 100 English fans singing outside a pub on the port, songs that I find profoundly unpleasant and quite embarrassing. Songs about the IRA and German bombers and how if it wasn't for us, you'd all be...well, you know the rest. I saw the aftermath of what happened when the French police moved in. Witnesses have given me different stories about what caused the police to move in, ranging from "it happened out of the blue," to, "some dickhead threw a bottle."
"I also saw what I believe, and what numerous witnesses have claimed, was a sneak attack by locals on a large group of England fans who were happily singing about Vindaloo and weren't causing anyone any harm at all. I saw the English fans respond emphatically. And you'll see it too on the videos below."
(These are the videos in question)
"I even saw a lone motorcyclist return to the scene to goad the English further. And I saw an entirely unexpected flash of red as an England fan drop kicked him off his bike. Despite having a clear view of that one, I still had to check with people next to me that I hadn't imagined it because it was so extraordinary."
He adds that nobody seems to know for sure what started the trouble:
"I have no idea what sparked the final flashpoint, shortly after France scored their winning goal. Again, witness accounts vary, and they *really* vary at nearly midnight when those witness have been drinking all day. That one remains unclear.
"What *is* clear is the memory of a narrow alleyway suddenly filling up with skedaddling English fans, shirts pulled up over their faces as tear gas popped behind them. And the taste, even if like me you're fortunate just to take a whiff of it, is something else. Sort of like leaning over an ice cold bonfire and breathing in, if you see what I mean. One supporter told me that he'd been trapped in a bar as the staff hurriedly pulled down the shutters, too late to block out the gas, but just in time to shut it in with the patrons."
Iain advises that we all refrain from jumping to conclusions and condemning all English fans:
"So what does it all mean? Well, it means that some English fans are dicks. It means that some French people are dicks. It means that the French police clearly have no compunction about using tear gas in situations that might otherwise be calmed using rather less invasive methods. That's a good one to remember.
"But it doesn't mean that the bad old days are back. It doesn't mean that England need to be chucked out of the Euros, or whatever else the usual suspects are calling for from the safety of their clickbaiting columns. Because around those flashpoints on Friday, the vast majority of English fans *weren't* dicks, they were mixing happily with each other and with the locals. And the vast majority of French people aren't dicks either. They've been overwhelmingly friendly and welcoming, in spite of our reputation.
"What we have in common is that we despair of all of this dickishness, we shake our heads in sadness that we can't even have a drink and watch a football match without people chucking patio furniture at each other. But we are the majority."
And he finishes on a very good point about how the Euros kicked off without everyone's worst fears coming to pass:
"And remember that in amongst all of this, a football match happened in Paris. It happened under the tightest security this sport may have ever seen, but it happened joyfully and wonderfully and, mercifully, without the worst of our fears being realised. So, you know, there is that.
"Tomorrow, with a bit of luck, will be a better day."
Iain later reiterated his point on Twitter: