Euro Championship review finds clashes endangered lives, slams minority of England fans for ’embarrassing’ display of national culture

Football Association (FA) CEO Mark Bullingham has apologised to fans for what he labelled the “terrible experience” during the European Championship final between England and Italy at Wembley, after an independent review said it was a near miss when it came to potential fatalities.

The July final, which Italy won on penalties, was marred by clashes between supporters and officials in and around the famous stadium.

The review found around 2,000 ticketless supporters stormed into Wembley on July 11 after 17 “mass breaches” of the stadium gates.

Many fans forced their way through disabled access entrances by punching and kicking stewards, before England lost to Italy in the country’s first final of a major men’s tournament since winning the 1966 World Cup.

The review said aggression by England fans was an “embarrassing” part of the national culture that endangered lives.

It also recommended fans be barred from stadiums if they chant abuse or are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

“The behaviour of a large minority of England supporters was not just disgraceful, it recklessly endangered lives,” review author Louise Casey said in a 129-page report published Friday.

“The appalling behaviour of supporters on Euro Sunday should be a wake-up call for us all.

A shirtless man is detained by two police officers as a crowd of people watch on
More than 80 people were arrested amid chaotic scenes when England faced Italy at Wembley in July.(AP: Ian West)

‘A day of shame’

The review said that if England won the game, a ticketless group of 6,000 people were preparing to storm the stadium to see the trophy presented.

Ms Casey blamed the rampage on a collective failure and said she did not want to scapegoat anyone.

Ms Casey recommended the English Football Association lead a campaign to bring about a “sea-change in attitudes” by fans.

About 100,000 fans gathered around the north London stadium for the match, despite pandemic curbs capping the 90,000-seat Wembley’s capacity at 67,000.

“A loss of experienced stewards as a result of the pandemic left Wembley’s stewarding operation vulnerable when confronted with the most aggressive and disorderly crowd Wembley had ever seen.”

Ms Casey condemned fans who she said targeted disabled supporters in a predatory fashion, to gain entry.

“In one appalling incident, a ticketless fan tried to impersonate a steward and hijack a disabled child and separated him from his father, in order to trick his way through a pass gate.”

A lack of enforced alcohol bans on London’s public transport was highlighted in the report. 

“The FA and Wembley, working with others, should step up action on eradicating such behaviours from football … refusing to allow entry to fans who arrive chanting foul abuse and/ or are clearly under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs,” she said.

UEFA has already punished England, with a home Nations League game in June being played in an empty stadium.

A second empty-stadium game was deferred for a two-year probationary period.

“The review makes clear that the circumstances leading up to the match led to a perfect storm of lawlessness,” Mr Bullingham said in a statement.

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