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Damning report calls out ‘national shame’ of Euro 2020 final chaos at Wembley

Around 6,000 ticketless fans were waiting to storm Wembley and create a ‘huge safety risk’ should England have won the penalty shootout at the European Championship Final on a day of ‘national shame’ on which ‘many fatalities’ were narrowly avoided.

A report into the disgraceful scenes which marred the nation’s first appearance in a final in 55 years has found that things would have been even worse had Gareth Southgate‘s men not fallen to defeat against Italy.

It believes a series of ‘very near misses’ at Wembley Stadium could have led to serious injury or even ‘loss of life’ on what was a dark day for the game. 

A number of testimonies from witnesses painted a harrowing portrait of the day’s events.

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. 

‘He’s then taken [son’s] wheelchair and pushed it towards the door,’ the witness said. ‘Just as we got to the door we twigged what was going on and it turned out he’s just an England fan in a high-viz jacket that was literally hijacking a wheelchair to get into the stadium.’

A London Emergency Services official added: ‘If England had won, I think it would have been horrific. And we’d have had to have declared a major incident, both central London and Wembley, I can guarantee that we would have been on our knees.’ 

The review, carried out by Baroness Louise Casey, also highlighted a ‘collective failure’ to plan for hordes of ticketless fans swarming on Wembley by the Football Association, Metropolitan Police and others involved.

It says 2,000 ticketless supporters managed to force their way into the showpiece fixture in what the report has described as ‘a perfect storm’ of Covid combined with ‘national euphoria’.

The stunning report includes details of:

  • How 6,000 fans were outside and ready to storm Wembley Stadium had England won the penalty shootout against Italy to win Euro 2020
  • Ticketless fans were climbing the trees and traffic lights outside Wembley in what a Brent council official described as a scene ‘like a medieval siege’
  • The Metropolitan police’s plan was for officers to turn up at Wembley at 3pm – only to be met by thousands of fans already drunk and causing problems
  • How a lack of designated fan zones left stewards ‘vulnerable’ in controlling crowd 

A new report into the fan trouble at the Euro 2020 final has found 6,000 more supporters were ready to storm Wembley had England beaten Italy in the penalty shootout  

A group of football fans storm through the security barriers at Wembley as stewards desperately try to hold them back ahead of the European Championships final at Wembley

A group of football fans storm through the security barriers at Wembley as stewards desperately try to hold them back ahead of the European Championships final at Wembley

‘APPALLING’ SCENES SAW TICKETLESS FAN ‘HIJACK’ A DISABLED CHILD TO GET INSIDE

The report detailed one particular ‘appalling incident’ at Wembley in which a ticketless supporter attempted to impersonate one of the matchday stewards before hijacking a disabled child, who had been separated from his father, in a bid to trick his way through barriers by pushing the child’s wheelchair.

The FA called in Baroness Casey after receiving heavy criticism for their role in the shocking scenes. 

From early in the morning thousands of boozed-up, drug-fuelled fans were allowed to gather in the shadows of the stadium. 

And by the time gates opened ahead of the 8pm kick-off, thousands breached security checkpoints amid chaotic scenes and managed to make their way to the turnstiles.

The report found 17 subsequent mass breaches of disabled access gates and scores of incidents of tailgating, where those without tickets followed those with tickets through electronic turnstiles.

But it also found disaster could have been averted thanks to the Three Lions spot-kick defeat, stating: ‘An England victory in the penalty shoot out would have created a further huge public safety risk, with up to 6,000 ticketless fans waiting to storm the stadium at the same time as doors were being opened to allow other fans to leave.’

The review said ‘shocking and unprecedented levels of criminal and anti-social behaviour’ were evident from early in the day with agencies ‘caught off-guard’ and resulted in a police deployment that was ‘too late’.  

Huge crowds gathered outside Wembley, including many without tickets, before the final

Huge crowds gathered outside Wembley, including many without tickets, before the final

Fists fly: Ticketless fans got into altercations with others as they barged into the stadium

Fists fly: Ticketless fans got into altercations with others as they barged into the stadium

It added: ‘There was a collective failure by organisations involved in planning the Euro 2020 Final to rigorously assess and mitigate the foreseeable risk of the scale of ticketless fans gathering at Wembley ahead of the match.

‘Stadium staff and stewards were praised for acting ‘with great courage in the face of appalling aggression’ and making ‘a number of potentially life-saving and split-second decisions’.

A safety probe carried out as part of the review stated: ‘At 5.25pm a surge of 100 individuals to the top of the Spanish steps caused barriers to collapse and led to a number of individuals being trampled, including a young male who fell and was temporarily ‘buried’ by other people falling on top of him. Although he climbed free he subsequently suffered a seizure and was treated at the scene.’

The official who carried out the safety report, said: ‘The prospect of a surging, ingressing drunken crowd in the event of England victory at the same time as the crowd is egressing is a frightening one. Had the weather not turned wet, and had England won the game, the consequences need little imagination.’

He added: ‘With the frequency of incidents at so many locations, especially simultaneously, there was a significant threat to life on the day of the final and having studied the footage, I consider that ( some of those ) present were lucky that nothing more serious occurred.’

Weaknesses in Wembley’s security operation and the wider stewarding industry were also exposed.

The report states: ‘Overall, there was a lack of recognition that the final was more than a football match to be managed – it was an occasion of national significance.’

Baroness Casey, a crossbench peer, also called for stronger enforcement powers, including against the use of illegal drugs and smoke bombs and flares and entering stadiums without a ticket. 

A mass of England fans outside the stadium pushed at the ticket barriers ahead of the match

A mass of England fans outside the stadium pushed at the ticket barriers ahead of the match

Police form a line in front of the Wembley as thousands of fans descend upon the scene

Police form a line in front of the Wembley as thousands of fans descend upon the scene 

She said: ‘I am clear that we were close to fatalities and/or life-changing injuries for some, potentially many, in attendance. That this should happen anywhere in 21st century Britain is a source of concern. That it should happen at our national stadium, and on the day of our biggest game of football for 55 years is a source of national shame.’

Speaking after the report was published, she added: ‘The Euro 2020 final was a potentially glorious national occasion that turned into a day of national shame. 

‘Our team of role models were in our first major final for 55 years. However they were let down by a horde of ticketless, drunken and drugged up thugs who chose to abuse innocent, vulnerable and disabled people, as well as police officers, volunteers and Wembley staff, creating an appalling scene of disorder and coming perilously close to putting lives at risk. 

‘We are genuinely lucky that there was not much more serious injury or worse, and need to take the toughest possible action against people who think a football match is somehow an excuse to behave like that. 

‘I am clear that the primary responsibility for what went wrong at Wembley that day lies with those who lost control of their own behaviour that day, not with anyone who did their best but lost control of the crowd. 

With no police in sight, stewards try in vain to force them back but scores barge their way in

With no police in sight, stewards try in vain to force them back but scores barge their way in 

‘Nevertheless, there are always lessons to be learned and it is right and commendable that the FA have commissioned this thorough review and have fully engaged with it, along with key partners including the Police and local council. No one was fully prepared for what happened that day and it can’t be allowed to happen again. 

‘That’s why I have made a series of recommendations to the FA, government and others. Because law abiding fans, our national team, and our national game deserve better.’ 

In the wake of the report, the FA apologised for its role in the debacle.

Chief Executive Mark Bullingham said: ‘The FA apologises for the terrible experience that many suffered within Wembley on what should have been a historic night for the game. Everyone at the FA was appalled at the significant levels of crowd disorder throughout the day on 11 July. 

‘The review makes clear that the circumstances leading up to the match led to a perfect storm of lawlessness. No event is set up to deal with such disgraceful behaviour from thousands of ticketless fans.   

‘Collectively we must never allow this to happen again. Baroness Casey is clear that moving forwards, where there is an event of national significance, we and all agencies must view it through a different lens.’


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