Russia faces Euro 2016 penalty for fan violence

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WARSAW, POLAND (AP) - Russia could be deducted six points in its qualifying group for the next European Championship if its fans turn violent again at Euro 2012.

UEFA fined the Russian soccer association $150,000 Wednesday because its fans attacked stadium stewards at a match last week in Poland. UEFA also gave the federation a suspended six-point deduction for a repeat offense.

“This decision is suspended for a probationary period running from now until the end of the playoffs of the next UEFA European Football Championship,” UEFA said in a statement.

Russia can appeal the verdict within three days.

Within hours of the announcement, UEFA charged Russia with other offenses relating to fan behavior inside the National Stadium during the match against Poland on Tuesday in Warsaw.

“However, last night’s incidents do not have any impact on the probation period for the sanction imposed on (Russia) following the incidents at their first match against the Czech Republic in Wroclaw,” UEFA said.

Russian fans were filmed fighting with stadium staff in Wroclaw after a 4-1 win last Friday. Police said violence flared when stewards tried to detain a man they believed threw a firecracker. Four stewards were treated at a hospital but were not seriously injured.

Russia’s fine was also imposed by UEFA’s disciplinary panel because of the thrown firework and for fans displaying “illicit banners.” An anti-discrimination monitoring group reported seeing nationalist flags adopted by far-right activists.

UEFA is still investigating claims that Russian fans racially abused Czech defender Theodor Gebre Selassie, who is black.

UEFA rules hold soccer associations responsible for their fans’ behavior inside stadiums.

Some Russian fans were involved in violent clashes, largely provoked by Poles, in Warsaw on Tuesday before and during the match against the co-hosts. UEFA cannot sanction federations for incidents that occur away from stadiums.

Russia is likely to find out its Euro 2016 qualifying group _ of five or six teams _ in less than two years.

Euro 2016 in France has been expanded to 24 nations, meaning the two top teams in each group will automatically advance. Third-place teams should get a final chance to advance through the playoffs.

Russia’s fine could be deducted from the Euro 2012 prize money and results bonuses UEFA pays to the 16 competing nations in Poland and Ukraine. The country has earned $11.9 million so far, and would collect more than $25.2 million if it wins the tournament.

UEFA said its disciplinary panel will on Sunday review a second round of charges against Russia following the 1-1 draw with Poland.

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