Russia charges two England fans taken off World Cup train

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian authorities charged two British soccer fans with public drunkenness and hooliganism on Monday after they were taken off a train heading for Volgograd where England were due to play in a World Cup match, the interior ministry said.

Volgograd Arena stadium is seen in Volgograd, Russia June 17, 2018. Picture taken June 17, 2018. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

Police said one of the two British fans was drunk and cut his right hand after breaking the glass of the train compartment’s door. He was taken to hospital in Yelets, some 500 km (312 miles) northwest of Volgograd (formerly Stalingrad).

The second British fan, who was also intoxicated, refused to obey police orders as he tried to get out of the train when he learned his compatriot had been injured, police said.

“The foreigner did not respond to the commands of the police officer on the train,” the interior ministry said in a statement. “He did not comply with legal requirements to stop hooligan actions.”

England’s soccer team face Tunisia in the southern Russian city in their first World Cup match later on Monday.

Both men were charged with public drunkenness, an offence that can carry a fine or up to 15 days in detention.

The fan who did not comply with police orders was also charged with minor hooliganism. He was fined 1,000 roubles (£12) by a local court, Interfax news agency reported.

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Russian authorities have pledged to hold a safe and secure World Cup tournament, which is taking place in 11 cities and runs until July 15.

When contacted by Reuters, a spokesman for the British Embassy in Moscow said: “Our staff have offered assistance to a British national who was detained following an incident on a train in Russia. We remain in contact with the local authorities regarding the two British men involved.”

An account of the incident first emerged on Russian social media late on Sunday. The Russian social media post, purporting to be a leaked internal railway operator’s report, said that British fan detained by police had seized the police officer’s service pistol.

The Russian interior ministry however did not make any mention of a weapon being seized.

Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber and Jack Stubbs; Editing Christian Lowe and Richard Balmforth