Europe

Drunk and high ticketless thugs ‘could have caused deaths’ if England had won Euro 2020

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Drunk and high on cocaine, many locked outside were like “zombies”, set to charge in after the final whistle.

Thousands of fans would have been streaming out of the North London ground and the consequences might have seen many killed and badly hurt.

One emergency services official told the review: “We would have been on our knees.”

A member of the Sports Grounds Safety Authority said: “Thank God, England lost. If they had won, you would have to open the doors to let people out and the stadium would have been stormed.”

The review led by Baroness Casey of Blackstock follows chaos at the game against Italy on July 11.

England lost their first major football final since 1966 on penalties.

Covid curbs meant 25,000 of the 90,000Wembley seats were left empty but a series of “near misses” may still have resulted in carnage.

Baroness Casey called the disorder as thousands of ticketless thugs forced their way in before kick-off a “source of national shame”.

She condemned all groups involved in staging the final for failing to prepare properly – but said primary blame lay with the brawling mob.

She said: “Our team of role models were let down by a horde of ticketless, drunken and drugged-up thugs who chose to abuse innocent, vulnerable and disabled people. We need to take the toughest possible action.

“The primary responsibility for what went wrong atWembley that day lies with those who lost control of their own behaviour.”

Around 2,000 yobs got in to the stadium from before kick-off right up to the penalty shoot-out, many storming disabled access gates and emer- gency fire doors. One thug impersonated a steward and hijacked a child in a wheelchair, separating him from his father to try to gain entry.

Others “tailgated” ticket holders through turnstiles. The review heard that only 400 intruders were ejected.

One FA official noted that ticketless thugs outside looked like “zombies”, not following the game on their mobiles but hoping for a way in. Cocaine was being taken openly.

The review also heard claims that police were deployed too late.

Baroness Casey said: “We were close to fatalities and/ or life-changing injuries.

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.”

Her general recommendations include: games of “national significance” to have extra security measures with stricter alcohol rules; tougher penalties for football-related disorder and an FA campaign for a “sea change” in fans’ attitudes.

FA chief executive Mark Bullingham said they accepted the findings and he apologised for the “terrible experience” inside Wembley.

He added: “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.

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“Collectively we must never allow this to happen again. The lessons learned from this review will ensure fans have a good experience at major international events atWembley.”

The FA has been sanctioned by UEFA, with supporters banned from the next home UEFA match.

Commander Rachel Williams of the Metropolitan Police said: “We welcome the praise by Baroness Casey on the bravery of officers in directly confronting scenes of disorder. We regret we were not able to do more.”

Police are still viewing thousands of hours of camera and online footage to identify the trouble-makers.

A Scotland Yard spokesman said: “The Met remains committed to taking firm action.”

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