England fans made headlines for all the wrong reasons before, during and after the Euro 2020 final defeat to Italy on Sunday evening.
Injuries and arrests
While great swathes of the England support behaved in an orderly and sensible manner, the actions of an incredibly vocal and destructive minority served to overshadow such a historic occasion.
Worrying reports, images and videos show England fans trying to storm Wembley Stadium, clashing with police and leaving London locations such as Leicester Square covered in litter.
According to Sky News, the Metropolitan Police confirmed that 19 police officers were injured when they “confronted volatile crowds” with 49 people having been arrested for a “variety of offences”.
England vs Italy match reaction (Football Terrace)
Alarming scenes at Wembley
These are alarming statistics that really underpin how things got out of hand in London with many ‘fans’ clearly thinking that the nature of the occasion gave them a right to behave inappropriately.
However, it is arguably the individual stories and accounts that really hammer home just how sad, depressing and disheartening the scenes on Sunday really were as opposed to the top-line data.
And many of those concerning anecdotes are included in a fascinating report by Melissa Reddy in the Independent, which elucidates many of the rumours you might have seen on social media.
Reported details of fan behaviour
Be sure to read the full round-up in its entirety, but many of the most high-profile and worrying reported incidents listed as having happened around England vs Italy go as follows:
- Kings Cross evacuated due to pyro
- Fights with police and arrests for disorderly behaviour
- Wembley briefly locked down as ticketless fans stormed the concourse
- Eyewitness claims that fans broke in through a disable entrance
- Video of an adult punching a child in the head
- Video of a group of men punching an Asian man on the floor
- Bottles thrown to smash a Burger King window
- Stars, aisles and disable area overrun by fans without tickets
- Paying supporters have allocated seats stolen
- Scuffles between fans with and without tickets
- All licensed premises within five miles closed
A volunteer outside Wembley told the Independent: “There were thousands on the steps near Wembley Way that bomb-rushed the barriers and broke through.
“It looked so co-ordinated as it happened in one big move as soon as God Save The Queen started. There was chaos everywhere. Fences were thrown on the concourse.”
Worrying insight from a fan
And supporter Brian Darwin, who paid £3,500 for his ticketed, added: “I was queuing for an hour-and-a-half along with my friend and the crowd were very patient.
“It started getting agitated and then an announcement came over the tannoy that if you’re queuing at Block K, go to J and they will let you in. So lots of people went to block J, there was about 40 minutes to kick off.
“They wouldn’t accept our tickets so we went back to K and queued again. Hundreds without tickets were tailgating and forced in behind those who paid.
“I was embarrassed really for this to be our national stadium, because you had Italian fans being treated like so poorly too. It was shocking organisation.
“The Covid-test requirement was a nonsense, it wasn’t checked properly for any of the England games I came to. You could have shown them anything on your phone.
“It was easy to get past the test check and just barge through the ticket bit. It ended up being thousands pushing through everywhere.
“I know of people who have not paid to get in to one England game, because they know once you get through those two weak checks, you’re inside and nothing will be done.
“There were quite a few with tickets who were stuck outside because of the chaos and a few friends with kids left because it was too dangerous. That is really sad. This was meant to be a day of joy and look what it turned into.”
It really does make for a demoralising line-up of irresponsible behaviour that threatens to distort the legacy of a football match that should have been all about, well, the football match itself.
However, it goes without saying that the actions of a vocal minority, no matter how destructive and important to address, still doesn’t compare to the fantastic achievements of the England squad.
It couldn’t be more saddening that their historic run to the final has been side-swiped with vile racism and hooliganism, but that doesn’t take away from their inspiring performances this summer.
There are countless examples of players in Gareth Southgate’s squad who have incredible journeys to the top and campaign against important issues such as racial discrimination and child poverty.
As such, one can only hope that the generation they have inspired is one that will conduct themselves far better than the minority within the current one that soured England’s big moment.