Football

Wembley chaos could affect England's hopes of hosting 2030 World Cup

England football chiefs and police faced questions over the chaotic and violent scenes around Wembley Stadium for the Euro 2020 final yesterday morning (Singapore time), with concerns that it could affect the country's 2030 World Cup bid.

London's Metropolitan Police said they made 49 arrests, and that 19 officers were injured while managing the final, in which Italy beat England in a penalty shoot-out.

The chaos started long before the match, with ticketless fans storming through security barriers and entering the stadium.

Stewards and riot police chased dozens of fans, who kicked down the security barrier before stampeding into an entrance and barging their way past other supporters, leading to violent scenes as some fought back.

"That was the worst experience I've ever had as a fan at a football match," tweeted Daily Mail football journalist Mike Keegan.

"Shambolic organisation, police nowhere to be seen, fans without tickets running amok within what was a giant Covid breeding ground.

"Saw fights, bottles thrown, people karate kicking windows and (a new one for me) had to jump out of the way of an armed officer with his gun drawn chasing someone."

England's Football Association chief executive Mark Bullingham apologised to fans affected, telling the BBC that the security team had "never seen anything like it".

"There were a large number of drunken yobs trying to force their way in, we run a stadium not a fortress," he said.

England is bidding to host the 2030 World Cup, but these scenes may have dealt those hopes a major blow.

"You can forget about the 2030 World Cup bid. Disgraceful," tweeted broadcaster John Duggan.

Veteran reporter Henry Winter, chief sports writer for The Times newspaper, said that he had seen a TV presenter "subjected to horrendous abuse" and that the security cordon was too close to the stadium.

"It was clear from the section to the right of main press box that some ticketless got in. A surge arrived 15 mins before kickoff," he tweeted.

"Some couples with tickets stood in aisles rather than argue with those who sat in their seats. Stewards overwhelmed.

"Thugs obviously and rightly condemned but Wembley security has to be better.

"The scenes, and the abuse of Italians and their anthem, is shaming and also a disaster for @FA 2030 World Cup bid.

"England may have gone out of two tournaments on one night."

Riot police were also required in central London, as large crowds attempted to push into a fan zone without tickets, while others clambered on buses and lamp posts.

While there were some reports of vandalism after the game, fans dispersed soon after the final whistle amid torrential rain. - AFP

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