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This is the modus operandi of the modern soccer hooligan.

He is young, but has money to travel. He is more likely to be fuelled by cocaine than lager. He has his targets prearranged. He engages opponents in commando-style raids, often popping out of cars to pummel someone, then hopping back in and driving off.

He is not a drunken idiot hoping to run into trouble. He is an organized one looking to create it.

He has been at work in numbers here at Euro 2016, though it's hard to separate his ilk from the over-refreshed muppets caught up in the moment. Regardless, it has the same effect.

In Marseille, a variety of factions came together ahead of Saturday's England-Russia match in running battles that lasted days.

First, locals fought English fans. Then English fans fought riot police. Russians – the real hard men of European soccer – showed up late and sparked the most vicious battles on the afternoon before the match.

Video distributed via social media showed men being swarmed and kicked unconscious, and one being knocked senseless by a swinging chair. Seen from above, huge swarms of combatants, moving like flocks of birds, collided again and again in Marseille's old port amid tear gas. Dozens were injured, two seriously, and a few arrested.

During the match, a flare gun was apparently fired inside the Stade Vélodrome. After the match ended, Russians in attendance walked through overmatched stadium security and sent English fans fleeing in panic.

Marseille responded by shutting down its Metro, trapping many non-combatants in the area around the arena. Most were wearing replica jerseys, making them obvious targets.

In Nice, other French ultras fought supporters of both Poland and Northern Ireland ahead of that match on Sunday.

On Sunday, the banner headline across France's main sports daily, L'Équipe, read, "La Honte" (Shame).

It's a measure of how much the scenes have shaken organizers that on Sunday UEFA threatened to disqualify the English and/or Russian teams if those scenes are repeated. It's not clear how such a ruling would work.

So three days in, France's Euro is thus far notable as the one that reintroduced soccer's unwelcome Fight Club tradition to the world. It's also fair to say organizers share some of the fault. The main failure – scheduling England/Russia in Marseille, which has a blighted history of urban soccer warfare stretching back to the 1998 World Cup. Everyone knew there would be trouble, and there was.

It has predictably fallen to finger pointing, with each side blaming the other.

The English blamed heavy-handed tactics by French police for their involvement. Russian news service Vesti blamed the English for problems inside the stadium.

"Two hundred and fifty Russians from different corners of our country did not flinch and repulsed the attack of the heavily drunken islanders," Vesti gloatingly reported, according to The Guardian. It was, of course, the other way around.

Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko, who was at the match and could be seen egging on his countrymen on from pitchside, wasn't much more contrite.

"We will have a fine from UEFA, so I understand. We behaved incorrectly," Mutko said. He panned security in the venue as "weak."

All this obscures the fact that the vast majority of fans from every country come here with peaceful intent. There were some fears ahead of Sunday's Croatia-Turkey match in Paris. The two countries have history. Both are noted for a ferocious soccer subculture.

However, supporters mingled peacefully outside the Parc des Princes before the match, and goaded each other good-naturedly during the game. It's proof we all can get along. And possibly that a 3 p.m. kickoff means the hive mind is not yet being directed entirely by a full day's worth of drinking.

The immediate concern is Russia's next match, against Slovakia on Wednesday, in the northern town of Lille. England is in Lens next.

Any repeats of violence will cement the image of this tournament as one that was out of control and put enormous pressure on UEFA to carry through on its vague threat of ouster.

The longer-term issue is the fact that Russia holds the next World Cup. If they are this blasé about a sociopathic clique of their citizens running amok in a foreign country, what measures will they take to contain many more of them at home? And, having seen video from this weekend, who would be mad enough to travel there and take the chance?

Russia 2018 was always going to have a far more nativist feel than a typical World Cup. It's too far away, too spread out and too expensive for most fans.

Now it's virtually guaranteed to be denuded of all but the most cloistered sports tourists (i.e. the people who can afford to travel there on VIP tour packages).

Hovering above it all is the difficult-to-comprehend urge that drives grown men to travel the world seeking new people to beat the hell out of.

In his seminal book about hooligans, Among the Thugs, Bill Buford describes the attraction of this sort of brutality:

"Violence is one of the most intensely lived experiences and, for those capable of giving themselves over to it, is one of the most intense pleasures," Buford wrote. "What was it like for me? An experience of absolute completeness."

That book was written in the 1980s, when hooligan culture was at its height. The sport has spent the decades since both congratulating itself on having matured, while at the same time mythologizing the few who still take part. The hooligan uniform – popped collars, white runners, tribal tattoos, a very special sort of sneer – is still seen everywhere. The wretched chants are still heard around arenas. Most people ignore them.

They can't any more now that the thugs have returned. What remains to be seen is how far the people who control the game are willing to go to force them back into their holes.