MARSEILLE, France (AP) — The Latest on the European Championship football tournament in France (all times local):
Red could be the new orange for Dutch fans during the European Championship in France.
With the Netherlands — known as Oranje for the national color — missing out on qualification for Euro 2016, Dutch Sports Minister Edith Schippers says fans should get behind neighboring Belgium — known as the Red Devils.
“We are so close to our southern neighbors. They can use a few more supporters, so let’s all go for the Belgians,” Schippers told Dutch national broadcaster NOS on Friday. “They have a good team, so it could be a fun tournament.”
After reaching the semifinals of the World Cup, the Netherlands – European champion in 1988 – failed to qualify for the tournament that starts Friday night in Paris when France plays Romania.
Belgium, one of the pre-tournament favorites, opens its campaign by playing Italy on Monday in Lyon.
Euro 2016 organizer Jacques Lambert says strikes in France have already damaged the event, and are especially hurting working class fans who depend on public transport. “They are not transported in chauffeur-driven cars.”
“The party has already been a bit spoiled.” He told France Inter radio.
“The image given is not the one we wanted.” Lambert played down violence in Marseille overnight, involving England fans.
“The phenomenon of hooliganism has diminished,” he said.
The Paris mayor is promising to clear all city streets of garbage by the end of the day after 12 days of strikes that have left a stinky mess — and further clouded France’s image as it hosts the European Championship soccer tournament.
Unions remain determined to keep up strikes at the main Paris waste incineration plant, on commuter trains taking fans to the opening match Friday, and on Air France flights starting Saturday. The strikes are part of nationwide labor action for months aimed at forcing the government to scrap a bill extending the work week and making layoffs easier.
Mayor Anne Hidalgo said the city has brought in dozens of extra garbage trucks over the past two days to clear the accumulated rubbish, which is getting especially smelly in the warm, muggy weather.
“All the garbage will be collected today,” she told BFM television Friday.
Two people were detained and four police officers lightly injured in violence overnight in the southern French city of Marseille involving England supporters, French Interior Ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet said Friday. He said the government will ensure extra security around Marseille fan areas tonight and tomorrow.
Trouble flared overnight in the southern French city of Marseille, where soccer supporters from England and Russia are gathering for a European Championship game on Saturday.
Witnesses said the fight, outside a pub in the Mediterranean city’s Old Port district, was quickly handled by police, who used tear gas to restore calm.
Local youths were apparently involved in the trouble, along with English fans drinking in the pub.
Riot police with shields separated the two groups.
Ambulances were seen arriving just after midnight. It was not known if anyone was injured. Police said two people were arrested.
England fans were involved in violent clashes with locals in Marseille during the World Cup in 1998.