WARSAW, POLAND (AP) - Nearly 20,000 Russians have tickets for their country's European Championship soccer match against Greece on Saturday, twice the number who saw the game with Poland that was marred by soccer hooligan violence earlier in the week.
The large number of Russians highlights the challenge facing Poland's security forces after clashes broke out on in Warsaw when Russia and Poland played Tuesday. It was an encounter between two Slavic countries who were once bitter enemies.
Scattered disturbances broke out across the city, with Polish hooligans clashing with Russians who marched in the city before the match. A few dozen people were injured before and during the match, and police arrested 184 people, mostly Poles. In one of the most violent incidents, police fired rubber bullets and tear gas at young Polish men who attacked officers with stones and bottles.
Courts have already convicted some of the troublemakers in fast-track trials, but many were given suspended sentences. Some Polish officials feel the sentences were too lenient, and Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski appealed Friday to the courts and prosecutors to deal decisively with "hooligan banditry."
Mikolaj Piotrowski, spokesman for the Polish Euro 2012 organizers, said nearly 20,000 Russians have tickets for the Russia-Greece match Saturday evening in Warsaw's National Stadium. He said authorities expect a further 3,000 Russians to watch the game in public spaces, including a large fan zone in the city center.
He said police "are ready for any scenario" that might play out Saturday.