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Northern Ireland photographer caught up in violent clashes at Euro 2016 between football fans and police in Marseille

England fans heard chanting 'Isis, where are you?'

Published 10/06/2016

French police fire tear gas as they clash with English football fans at The Queen Victoria pub in Marseille ahead of the first game in Euro 2016. PA
French police fire tear gas as they clash with English football fans at The Queen Victoria pub in Marseille ahead of the first game in Euro 2016. PA
French police fire tear gas as they clash with English football fans at The Queen Victoria pub in Marseille ahead of the first game in Euro 2016. PA
People react as tear gas in thrown by French police during a gathering by England supporters in Marseille, southeastern France, on June 10, 2016, on the eve of England's Euro 2016 football match against Russia. AFP/Getty Images
People react as tear gas in thrown by French police during a gathering by England supporters in Marseille, southeastern France, on June 10, 2016, on the eve of England's Euro 2016 football match against Russia. AFP/Getty Images
An England fan (2nd R) is detained by police personnel in the port area of the city of Marseille in southern France, on June 10, 2016, ahead of the start of the Euro 2016 football tournament. / AFP PHOTO / LEON NEALLEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images
French riot police walk in a line near football supporters gathered in Marseille, southeastern France, on June 10, 2016, prior to the start of the Euro 2016 football tournament. / AFP PHOTO / ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULATANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT/AFP/Getty Images
England supporters gather in Marseille, southeastern France, on June 10, 2016, on the eve of England's Euro 2016 football tournament against Russia. / AFP PHOTO / ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULATANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT/AFP/Getty Images
MARSEILLE, FRANCE - JUNE 10: Football fans clash in Marseille ahead of the opening game of the UEFA Euro 2016 tournament later today, on June 10, 2016 in Marseille, France. Football fans from around Europe have descended on France for the UEFA Euro 2016 football tournament. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)
An England fan (L) walks through tear gas after police fired tear gas to disperse a crowd in the port area of the city of Marseille in southern France, on June 10, 2016, ahead of the start of the Euro 2016 football tournament. / AFP PHOTO / LEON NEALLEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images
An England fans walks through tear gas after police fired tear gas to disperse a crowd in the port area of the city of Marseille in southern France, on June 10, 2016, ahead of the start of the Euro 2016 football tournament. / AFP PHOTO / LEON NEALLEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images

A Northern Ireland photographer was hit with tear gas during violent clashes between football fans and police in the French port town of Marseille.

The start of the tournament, officially marked by the curtain-raiser between the hosts and Romania in Paris on Friday evening, has instead been overshadowed by images of brawls between rival supporters, violence and confrontations with local police.

The latest clashes came after a night of violence in the southern French city.

One England supporter suffered a head injury in Thursday night's brawl after being hit across the face with a wooden chair, and according to reports, some England fans were heard chanting: "Isis, where are you?"

As the disorder lurched into another day, bare-chested England fans could be seen dodging the gas deployed by police as an afternoon of drinking and singing turned into an ugly stand-off with police.

Police with helmets, batons and shields grappled troublemakers to the ground amid beer bottles and rubbish strewn across the cobbled streets.

England supporters who had been drinking for most of the day at the Queen Victoria pub in the Old Port district threw bottles at French riot police, who used tear gas to disperse them.

The officers, who wore full riot gear, were seen marching towards hundreds of England fans who ran away down the street.

More: Euro 2016: England fans clash with police in Marseille

The Impartial Reporter's photographer John McVitty found himself in the middle of the trouble on Thursday.

French police face English football fans at The Queen Victoria pub in Marseille ahead of the first game in Euro 2016. PA
French police face English football fans at The Queen Victoria pub in Marseille ahead of the first game in Euro 2016. PA
French police fire tear gas as they clash with English football fans at The Queen Victoria pub in Marseille ahead of the first game in Euro 2016. PA
French police officers stand in the Old Town area of Marseille ahead of the first game in Euro 2016 following clashes with English football fans near to The Queen Victoria pub. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday June 10, 2016. See PA story SPORT Euro2016. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
French police dog handlers walk past football fans following clashes with English football fans outside The Queen Victoria pub in Marseille ahead of the first game in Euro 2016. PA
English football fans near to the The Queen Victoria pub in Marseille ahead of the first game in Euro 2016, as French police have clashed with English football fans. PA
French police officers watch English football fans outside The Queen Victoria pub in Marseille ahead of the first game in Euro 2016. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday June 10, 2016. See PA story SPORT Euro2016. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
French police dog handlers walk past football fans following clashes with English football fans outside The Queen Victoria pub in Marseille ahead of the first game in Euro 2016. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday June 10, 2016. See PA story SPORT Euro2016. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
French police face English football fans at The Queen Victoria pub in Marseille ahead of the first game in Euro 2016. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday June 10, 2016. See PA story SPORT Euro2016. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
A French police officer holds a baton gun following clashes with English football fans outside The Queen Victoria pub in Marseille ahead of the first game in Euro 2016. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday June 10, 2016. See PA story SPORT Euro2016. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire

He is in France as part of the Press corps reporting on the tournament.

Mr McVitty said he was enjoying a meal with his wife and friends when the trouble broke out.

He told the Impartial Reporter: "All of a sudden there were up to 15 police cars stopped outside, then the riot police arrived, carrying batons and wearing helmets. Within no time it had moved across the road towards us.

"People were being sick because of the tear gas, there was another man and he had his hands over his eyes. There was a takeaway nearby and all we could do was watch as a man was beaten up,” he said.

As the violence intensified, Mr McVitty, an Fermanagh-based award-winning photographer, was hit by tear gas.

He added: "All you could hear was the banging of the tear gas, the explosions. Then out of nowhere it hit me, it took my breath away.

"It got into my eyes, up my nose. It was really strong, it made me feel very numb and it hurt my eyes. The whole thing was aggressive,” he said.

One England supporter suffered a head injury in Thursday night's brawl after being hit across the face with a wooden chair, and according to reports, some England fans were heard chanting: "Isis, where are you?"

Bare-chested England fans dodged the gas deployed by police as an afternoon of drinking and singing turned ugly.

Police with helmets, batons and shields grappled troublemakers to the ground amid beer bottles and rubbish strewn across the cobbled streets.

Supporters are in Marseille ahead of England's game with Russia on Saturday.

French police dog handlers walk past football fans following clashes with English football fans outside The Queen Victoria pub in Marseille ahead of the first game in Euro 2016. PA
French police dog handlers walk past football fans following clashes with English football fans outside The Queen Victoria pub in Marseille ahead of the first game in Euro 2016. PA
French police restrain a man following clashes with English football fans outside The Queen Victoria pub in Marseille ahead of the first game in Euro 2016. PA
French police dog handlers walk past football fans following clashes with English football fans outside The Queen Victoria pub in Marseille ahead of the first game in Euro 2016. PA
French police officers seperate English and French football fans outside the Metro station in the Old Town area of Marseille ahead of the first game in Euro 2016, following clashes with English football fans near to The Queen Victoria pub. PA

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