WARSAW - Another day, another black eye for Euro 2012.
A tournament that is making news for all the wrong things almost exploded Tuesday into all-out rioting before the game between Poland and Russia.
There was enormous tension going into the match from a soccer perspective. Poland needed to get a positive result in the game in order to keep its hopes alive of moving into the second round.
The on-field tensions were exacerbated by the off-field activity stemming from decades of enmity between the two countries.
A march held by Russian fans celebrating a national holiday -- Russia Day, commemorating the day the Soviet Union ceased to exist -- to the stadium through the streets of Warsaw broke into a series of fights involving Russian visitors, police and Polish hooligans.
Russian fans numbered between 5,000 and 10,000 in the downtown area.
Reports had numerous people being injured.
A number of other incidents occurred around Warsaw and the National Stadium.
Fans threw missiles, including rocks, at the police. Television footage showed groups of 10-15 men fighting and police helicopters hovering overhead. Reports said police, using water cannons, sprayed unruly fans near the stadium just hours ahead of the match.
The police eventually halted the march.
The police presence was extraordinary. A long bridge over the Vistula River was cordoned off on both sides by police.
Police around the outside of the stadium sealed off areas of entry so the fans of the two teams couldn't interact.
Reports said fans chanted "Russia whore, Russia whore" and "Hit the red trash with a hammer, with a sickle."
Alcohol played a huge role with thousands of fans drinking since early morning. It didn't make much to push people over the edge.
Early reports said police made 56 arrests.
The centre of the city and train station was calm before the match with mostly Polish fans doing the chanting.
In one restaurant filled with Polish fans, a man suddenly jumped up and began chanting support for Russia.
Nothing was said or done.
It didn't help that over the past few days the Polish media have been stoking the furnace with heated rhetoric and visuals such as dressing up Poland coach Franciszek Smuda in a military uniform, recalling the country's victory in 1920 in a battle with Russia.