England’s 1-1 draw versus Russia on Day Two of the Euro 2016 soccer championship gave ITV the biggest television audience for any program in the UK this year. The match at Marseille’s Vélodrome stadium peaked with 14.1M viewers and an average 12.9M. Overall coverage began at 7PM local and drew a 43 share across 3.5 hours. Ratings were also strong in host country, France, as well as in other major soccer territories Germany and Spain. But the play was marred by violent clashes between fans from both sides, and police.
Even with intensified security as this Euro Cup unfurls against a backdrop of lingering terrorist threats, Marseille was the scene of violence going into and over the weekend. Riot police used tear gas and water cannons to disperse unruly hooligans in the port town on Thursday and Friday. On Saturday night, there was a frenzy at the end of the England-Russia face-off inside the Vélodrome. Flares were lit from the stands at one point while firecrackers also appeared to go off, leading to questions of how such paraphernalia made it into the stadium amid the extra security. Russian supporters charged England fans at the end of the match. Reports put the number of people injured at around 35 including four seriously. About 10 people have been arrested.
Governing European soccer body, UEFA, said it was launching disciplinary proceedings against the Russian Football Union for “crowd disturbances, setting off of fireworks and throwing of missiles.” It released the following statement, “UEFA expresses its utter disgust for the violent clashes that occurred in the city center of Marseille, and its serious concern for the incidents at the end of the match inside Stade Vélodrome. This kind of behavior is totally unacceptable and has no place in football.” A decision on the sanctions will be made within the next few days.
The football is being rigorously followed by fans at home. In other ratings, France‘s M6 won the night with 5.7M viewers for the match and a 26.8 share. Germany‘s ZDF netted an average 12.35M and a 42.5 share. In Spain, Mediaset said the match was seen by 3.39M viewers for a 28.4 share.
Tonight’s big match pits World Cup 2014 champs Germany against Ukraine in Lille. Tomorrow sees defending Euro Cup champs Spain face off with Czech Republic in Toulouse. We’ll have a look later today at how the sporting event is affecting box office in the region.