PARIS (AP) — The Latest from soccer’s European Championship (all times local):
The normally quiet center of Lens has turned into a big party as England and Wales soccer fans converge on the smallest host city of the European Championship.
Fearing the kind of disorder from drunken fans that took place in nearby Lille late Wednesday and in Marseille last week, the sale of alcohol was strictly regulated and limited to beer. Some stores selling alcohol remained closed, while others put on display announcements about the ban.
Three hours before kickoff, fans were mingling freely in the rain and under gloomy skies — typically British weather for an all-British match.
Supporters without tickets were patiently waiting in a long line to get into the fan zone located in the town center, in front of a church.
Security was heavy, especially at the train station with many fans arriving on trains from Lille.
Two supporters watching France play Albania in a fan zone in the city of Lyon have been slightly injured following a scuffle involving fans from three nations.
Local authorities in Lyon said the altercation broke up Wednesday evening after French supporters started to sing France’s national anthem, “La Marseillaise.” They were confronted by a group of Albania fans, leading police to intervene inside the fan zone.
Privately-hired security agents are normally in charge of security inside the fan zones at Euro 2016, with French authorities dealing with it outside.
Lyon prefecture’s press office said the two fans injured are a Belgian and a Frenchman, “who sustained wounds to their thigh and bottom.” Police did not find the weapon used by the attacker.
In a separate incident, police arrested a supporter who smuggled a flare inside the open-air space set up in downtown Lyon.
The fan zone will be open on Thursday but the Lyon prefect will meet with the company in charge of its security and UEFA officials to strengthen safety.
It’s beer for breakfast for England’s seemingly indefatigable fans, who are downing pints in the rain in Lille before the team’s match against Wales in nearby Lens later Thursday.
A boisterous crowd a couple of hundred people have picked up where they left off, singing “England ’til I die” and other songs at the “The 3 Brewers” pub opposite the Flanders train station.
But unlike the previous night, when French riot police charged groups of fans and sprayed tear gas, the mood is good-humored.
Long lines have formed in the station of fans waiting to board trains to the match.
UEFA says England’s participation in the European Championship is under no immediate threat despite a fresh outbreak of fan violence.
UEFA said after disorder in Marseille last week that England — along with Russia — faced potential disqualification if there was more violence away from stadiums.
In Lille on Wednesday, French police used tear gas to disperse rampaging England fans. It was the fourth time England fans have been involved in violent incidents since the start of the tournament.
UEFA says it “regrets the skirmishes which occurred in Lille last night. Police forces made several arrests and were quick to restore order and keep the situation under control.”
But there are no plans for an emergency meeting of UEFA’s executive committee to discuss any further warning or sanctions.
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