MARSEILLE, France -- England fans rioted Saturday at the Old Port in Marseille and police used tear gas for a third straight day in an attempt to disperse rowdy crowds only hours before England was to play Russia at the European Championship.
At least five people were wounded in the fighting, some with blood dripping from their heads.
Russian fans were also involved in the fighting.
Later in the day, police used a water cannon to disperse fans.
TV footage showed scenes of violence, including fans throwing chairs yanked from restaurant terraces and scuffling on a staircase, where one man was seen kicking another one down the stairs.
About 2½ hours before the game, there were still fights breaking out in the Old Port. It was unclear who exactly was fighting.
Alexander Shprygin, head of the All-Russian Fans' Union, a body with backing from the Russian government and soccer authorities, told The Associated Press by telephone that the police had broken up fights between English and Russian supporters.
"The reason (for the fighting) was that the English are drinking a lot and are behaving badly," Shprygin said.
Fans of Russian clubs Lokomotiv Moscow and Zenit St. Petersburg were "active" in the fighting, Shprygin said, but would not comment on whether a group of Russian fans had attacked English supporters.
Regional police chief Laurent Nunez told French media that five people had been wounded and six people arrested during the fighting.
Two television stations have reported that one of those wounded had suffered a heart attack during one of the melees, although they gave no further details.
Across town at the Stade Velodrome, the situation remained calm amid heavy security. Lines of police were drawn up outside, sirens blared and a mobile water cannon was parked outside.
As kickoff neared, more riot police arrived with shields.
The clashes have revived bitter memories of days of bloody fighting in the Mediterranean port city between England hooligans, Tunisia fans and locals of North African origin during the World Cup in 1998. Then, hundreds of England fans were involved in violent beach-front clashes with locals in Marseille over two days around England's match against Tunisia, prompting a headline in a local paper: "Go home hooligans!"
The violence marred earlier peaceful scenes at the port on Saturday morning, when fans mingled with tourists as relaxed police looked on. It also came despite UEFA repeating its appeal to fans to behave, saying it was "confident that the safety of travelling fans will be ensured by the local authorities which are responsible for order in the city."
Local authorities laid out separate routes to enter the stadium for England and Russia fans in an attempt to keep the groups apart before the 9 p.m. (1900 GMT) kickoff of the Group B match. Several hours before the match, small groups of fans were gathering peacefully outside the stadium.
England coach Roy Hodgson had also urged fans to "avoid any troubles lurking around the corner."
Jean Patrick Berbera rushed early Saturday to install extra security shutters to his store in the Old Port area.
"The police did their jobs, but, well, it sort of kicked off a civil war at the port last night," Berbera said.
Gary Toal, an England fan from the northern city of Newcastle, said the violence in Marseille was overshadowing Euro 2016, which opened Friday with host France's 2-1 victory over Romania in Saint-Denis.
"It's not everybody but there are a lot of people involved," Toal said. "It is a bit of a mob mentality and it's not nice to see so we are trying to keep away from all that and enjoy the football."
Straight KO on the guy to the left. Things aren't getting any better in Marseille. pic.twitter.com/HZKGGh8Q68— Viktor Fagerström (@ViktorFagerLFC) June 11, 2016
Awful scenes in Marseille again. pic.twitter.com/sXu57Pk20v— Football Vines (@FootballVines) June 11, 2016
BREAKING: CRAZY Scenes in Marseille pic.twitter.com/K82Z21EVfQ— UEFA EURO 2016 (@EurosUEFA) June 11, 2016