Putin sent Russian footy hooligans who left mark on England to conquer Europe

Vladimir Putin allegedly once sent Russian hooligans to "conquer Europe" – and they left their mark on England supporters in Marseille.

English and Russian supporters infamously clashed in violent scenes in southern France before and after their 1-1 group stage draw at Euro 2016.

A BBC documentary on the rise of football hooliganism in Russia later revealed claims that Putin had 'ordered' the violent supporters to descend on France for the tournament.

Russian hooligans also warned England fans of violence ahead of the 2018 World Cup in Russia, although authorities cracked down on the violence ahead of the tournament with few clashes reported.

In the 2017 documentary, Russia's Hooligan Army, the leader of Spartak Moscow's firm, Gladiators, claimed Putin had ordered their presence in Marseille.

Vasily 'The Killer' Stepanov was recorded saying: “They were special military forces of football hooligans sent by Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin to conquer Europe.”

He also revealed that being a hooligan gave him "principles and courage" and a "feeling you are on top of Everest and can do anything".

English fans were attacked in Marseille by Russian hooligans in June 2016, one day after several English supporters had clashed with French police in the city.

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The violence with Russian supporters spilled into the Stade Velodrome and continued following the end of their 1-1 draw, and it marked the beginning of a tournament marred by fan violence.

Russian hooligans were later involved in clashes with English fans in Lille and Spanish supporters in Germany following their elimination.

Following the release of the documentary, some of the men interviewed by the BBC criticised the film and claimed it contained factual errors.

One man said he had been assigned to the wrong firm by the documentary, whilst Stepanov argued his views had been misrepresented.

According to The Guardian, Russian police issued a call for anyone in the documentary to report to a local station to sign forms stating they were coerced into lying on camera by the BBC.

Spartak fans later mocked the BBC with a banner labelling them the Blah Blah Channel.

The BBC addressed claims of errors in the documentary, saying: "The programme spoke with a number of Russian football firms to understand why they behave the way they do, some of which are notorious for their extreme violence, views and organised operations.

"The programme highlights the efforts made by the Russian government and police to tackle the violence of these firms.

"Our request to film with the police was declined and despite efforts to arrange an interview with the 2018 Organising committee to discuss what was being done to tackle the issue, our efforts were unsuccessful.”

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