Chelsea fans shouting their support for exiled owner Roman Abramovich clashed with French police ahead of their side’s Champions League clash with Lille.
The Blues will face the Ligue 1 side in the second leg of their round of 16 on Wednesday night, with the match unaffected by restrictions which have prevented Chelsea from selling tickets. This meant a large number of fans traveled for the big game, with the Blues defending champions in the competition.
The Premier League giants are being forced to play under a special license after Abramovich was sanctioned by the British government following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Abramovich was disqualified as a director for his alleged close ties to Vladimir Putin, but that hasn’t stopped Blues fans from showing their support for the Russian.
They frequently chanted his name ahead of the last few top-flight matches and were also heard chanting it in the streets of Lille. According to the Daily Mail, a large crowd of Blues fans gathered at a bar opposite the city’s train station.
French police in riot gear reportedly moved towards the crowd, with Chelsea supporters throwing beer bottles at them in response. The gendarmes sent “snatch squads” to arrest the ringleaders with tear gas also deployed.
Over 2,000 Chelsea fans are believed to have traveled for the game, and many were seen drinking heavily almost as soon as they arrived in France. Lille police criticized the fans for their actions, with “pockets” of problems continuing to arise.
“We have been called to the stand following complaints about the behavior of supporters. The roads around the area have been cordoned off and there are still isolated pockets of unrest around the town,” a spokesperson said. the police.
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