Chelsea fans clashed with French riot police ahead of last night’s Champions League game.
The crisis-hit Premier League club advanced to the quarter finals following a 4-1 aggregate win over Lille, the match was overshadowed by the trouble that preceded it.
Gendarmes in full riot gear were forced to launch tear gas canisters at a group of fans who had been drinking throughout the day in close proximity to Lille-Flanders station.
‘We were called to the bar following complaints about the behaviour of the supporters,’ said a local police spokesman, who said the violence started soon after 6.30pm.
‘Roads around the area have been cordoned off and there are still isolated pockets of trouble around the city.’
Despite expressly being told to stop chanting the name of their sanctioned owner Roman Abramovich, Chelsea’s fans continued to show their support for the Russian oligarch, whose assets have been seized by the UK Government as a consequence of his ties with Vladimir Putin.
As a consequence, Abramovich has been forced to sell a club that has benefited from his wealth to become a modern footballing superpower.
A host of parties have registered an interest in buying the Premier League giants, but many fans feel the man who has presided over the most successful period in Chelsea’s history has been unfairly treated.
Rustam Doroshenko, a 27-year-old from Poltava, in central Ukraine, was among those Chelsea fans speaking up for Mr Abramovich.
While having absolutely nothing to do with the violence, Mr Doroshenko told the Daily Mail: ‘His ownership of Chelsea has been a dream.
‘He is somebody who really cares for the club, and it looks like he is being found guilty and punished without any attempt at trial.
‘I am not a politician, but I do believe that Roman Abramovich should be shown justice and respect.
‘It is absolutely right that Russia is sanctioned for what it is doing in my home country, but punishing a British football club does not feel right.’
He added: ”Whatever happens, Roman Abramovich will always be part of Chelsea’s history, and he will always be remembered for that.
‘I’ve supported Chelsea for 15 years, and there are plenty of other Ukrainians who love the club.’
The disturbances which marred the build up to last night’s game, meanwhile, are unlikely to be replicated during the latter stages of the competition with Chelsea denied the opportunity to sell tickets to fans by UEFA as along as Abramovich remains at the helm.
Chelsea’s sale continues to move apace, and the west London club could even have a new owner by the Champions League’s April quarter-finals.
A new face in the owner’s seat would alleviate the threat of behind-closed-doors matches, but Tuchel was in no mood to speculate after Chelsea’s win in France.
When asked about the prospect of playing without fans, Tuchel replied: ‘Thanks for ruining my evening!
‘I was in such a good mood, can we speak about it when it’s confirmed? Let’s wait for the confirmation of the confirmation. Let’s see, today I’m happy that we are in the last eight.
‘There were a lot of things to overcome, so I’m so happy and so proud. So let’s see. It’s the first thing I hear now. In three days we play Middlesbrough in the cup, then we have the national break, and then I’ll think about a good answer.
‘The fans are outside right now and it was brilliant to be with them.’
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