England fans looking for trouble, say Russian police

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MOSCOW, Oct 17 (Reuters) England fans have been drinking heavily and looking for trouble ahead of the Euro 2008 qualifier against Russia in Moscow today (2030 IST), local police said.

''British subjects who have come to Moscow to support their team against Russia are not acting properly. There is the feeling that they have come to drink,'' Itar-Tass quoted a police spokesman as saying.

''After they arrived they went straight for the pubs and clubs.

The English fans are getting drunk and provoking conflicts,'' the spokesman added. ''Police found several English fans on the street in an extremely intoxicated state overnight.'' Police escorted several inebriated fans back to their hotels and there were five fights recorded overnight, the spokesman said.

The BBC reported the British Foreign Office as saying four England fans had been beaten up and treated in hospital, although none of them were thought to be seriously injured.

More than 5,000 police will be at the Luzhniki stadium to keep order.

The British Embassy in Moscow was advising fans against trying to get into the Russian sector of the stadium, but for those still planning to do so it offered the following guidance.

''Be sober,'' the embassy said in a statement. ''Be as inconspicuous as possible -- don't wear England scarves, shirts etc.'' An English fan in Moscow told Reuters he had found the city a friendly place and enjoyed a quiet night with friends in a local pub.

''We are queueing up for our tickets now. I think it is too cold for any trouble,'' said Michael Dowson.

''Everyone has been nice and friendly. We were in a comfy little Russian bar last night and had quite a few drinks but everything was calm. We are just waiting for the match,'' he said.

A win in Moscow would secure England's place in next year's finals with a match to spare.

REUTERS BJR RAI1823

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