October 17th, 2007 01:56 EST
British fans beaten up in Moscow
Police sources are reporting a number of attacks on English fans overnight ahead of this evening`s crucial Euro 2008 qualifier between England and Russia. Thousands of football fans have gathered in Moscow to watch the event, which decides who makes it to the finals of the European Championship.
England is currently five points ahead of Russia in the table with only two matches to go while the Russians have three matches ahead of them. If Russia wins today, it still has a chance to go to Euro 2008. A victory for England would be their pass to Austria and Switzerland.
Fans for both sides have flocked to Moscow. Around 4,500 Britons have come to the Russian capital, while the number of Russians that are due to come to see the match can be as big as 75,000. Both crowds have a reputation for trouble " thus the tight security measures.
The match starts at 7 pm local time (3 pm GMT), but the riot police have been gathering around Moscow`s Luzhniki stadium since early morning. They are determined to prevent any possible clashes. Some 5,000 policemen including a crack force of riot police will be guarding the stadium.
Meanwhile, the match has provoked some controversy, as the British media has been speculating that the artificial pitch at the stadium is being used to give the Russian side an unfair advantage in the game. Unlike their Russian competitors, the English team is not accustomed to playing on an artificial pitch.
The coaches of both teams were relaxed over the allegations and say the advantage, if any, will not be that significant.