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English fans hospitalised after fight in Kiev

Three English football fans were hospitalised and 10 more received minor injuries in a clash with Ukrainian youngsters in central Kiev before the crucial Ukraine-England 2014 World Cup qualifying match, police said Monday.

A group of about 40 English fans, who came to support their team in Tuesday’s match, were relaxing late Sunday in a cafe on the main Khreschatyk street of Kiev when an argument with a group of Ukrainians turned into a fight.

Six unidentified youngsters with their faces covered — who were joined during the short fight by some 15 other people — managed to escape before police arrived at the scene, police said.

Three British fans were hospitalised with head and hand injuries as a result of the scuffle, Ukrainian police said in a statement. They were discharged after receiving medical care.

According to eyewitnesses, cited by the Komsomolskaya Pravda in Ukraine daily, the English fans were struck with glass bottles and the attackers also had knives.

Police have launched a criminal probe into the incident.

Ukraine national coach Mykhaylo Fomenko expressed regret over the attack later on Monday, telling English and Ukrainian reporters at a press conference: “We are very sorry about this.”

His England counterpart, Roy Hodgson, said he hoped visiting fans would not be deterred from attending the game at Kiev’s Olympic Stadium.

“We deplore that, everyone deplores that. I’m sure the people here in Kiev deplore it as well,” he said.

“I don’t know the circumstances of the attack, but unfortunately these things can happen when football fans get together.

“It was remarkable that nothing of that nature happened last year (during Euro 2012). It’s sad that it’s occurred this time, but I can only hope that our fans aren’t put off by that and the fans who are injured aren’t so badly injured that they can’t attend the game.” AFP

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