Stewards try to stop fans storming their way into Wembley
Terrified families of England stars were forced to run from ticketless hooligans who stormed their way inside Wembley Stadium for Sunday’s final of the European Championship.
And some families of players were also victims of attempted thefts of their tickets at the pick-up points and in the chaotic queues at Wembley’s Entrance G, near the Bobby Moore statue, as they tried to enter the stadium.
The frightening situation was not just confined to families of England players either, as it emerged that the son of Italy head coach Roberto Mancini, Andrea, found his seat was occupied and watched the first-half “sitting in the stadium’s steps”.
What should have been one of the proudest moments and a day to remember for families of the players, regardless of the result, turned into a nightmare for many who were left feeling scared and intimidated for much of the final.
The most shocking reports were of England players’ families being caught up in the crush as around 50 thugs without tickets managed to storm their way into the stadium at the families’ entrance.
One family member said: “About 50 people forced a metal door by the turnstiles open by bending it right back. Then loads of guys from everywhere just charged the opening to get in.
“The stewards couldn’t cope or stop them. I felt so sorry for them, they were getting kicked and punched. Hundreds got in and women and blokes that were queuing up were pushed over and trampled. We just ran, thinking we were going to get trampled.”
A relative of a different player added: “It was chaos. All these people with no tickets just stormed in. A lot of the families felt unsafe. There was nothing the stewards could do.”
Other families, some of whom had small children with them, reported incidents of gangs hanging around by the turnstiles trying to grab their tickets as they queued and approached the entrance. There was also thought to be a case of an attempted theft near the venue from which families were told to pick up their match tickets that had been left for them by the players.
The situation did not improve for the families once they were inside the stadium, as they found people without tickets sitting in their seats who moved from row to row after being moved on and loitered in the aisles.
At least one member of a player’s entourage is thought to have been verbally abused after asking somebody to move from their seat, with the situation getting ugly enough that others had to step in to move the hooligan on.
Another family member said: “It was not a good experience for anyone and it was very intimidating to be part of and to watch. In many ways it ruined the day and we’d definitely think carefully about who we brought with us if England are involved in another big game at Wembley.”
Confirming his seat was taken by a ticketless so-called fan, Andrea Mancini, son of Roberto, said: “There was a mess with ticketless fans and my seat had been taken, so I had to watch the first half sitting in the stadium’s steps. I found another place in the second half. Perhaps it brought good luck.”
Members of the general public were unable to get to their seats at all and some supporters even stood in the disabled sections because of the number of ticketless fans inside the stadium and the congestion in the aisles.
Asked about the scenes of disorder that blighted the final, England manager Gareth Southgate said: “We can’t control that. We can only set the example that we believe we should and represent the country in the way that we feel you should when you’re representing England.
“Everybody has to remember when they support the team that they also represent England and they should represent what we stand for. The players have done that brilliantly and we can only continue to try to affect the things that we can. We have had a positive affect on lots of areas of society, but we can’t affect everything. Other people have responsibility in those areas and we’ve all got to work collectively to constantly improve those things.”
We witnessed this and I stepped away just in time. If this is even crossing your mind, don’t. You don’t get far. Please don’t ruin it for everyone at Wembley. pic.twitter.com/CoNx4U4CHb
— Michelle Owen (@MichelleOwen7) July 11, 2021
The FA condemned the thugs who broke their way into the stadium, describing them as “an embarrassment”.
In a statement, the FA said: “We strongly condemn the behaviour of a group of people that forced their way into Wembley Stadium before the Euro 2020 final. This is entirely unacceptable.
“These people are an embarrassment to the England team and to all of the true fans who wanted to enjoy one of the most important matches in our history.
“We will work with the relevant authorities to take action against anyone who is identified to have illegally forced their way into the stadium.”
Wembley was forced to backtrack on an initial statement that claimed no breach to the entrances had been made by releasing a second statement that said: “There was a breach of security and a small group of people got into the stadium.
“We are now working closely with stadium stewards and security to remove these people. Anyone inside the stadium without a ticket will be instantly ejected.”
Police detain a so-called England fan
Credit: ACTION IMAGES
The Met Police confirmed after the final that 45 arrests had been made, but questions have been raised over the security arrangements both outside and inside Wembley.
One source told Telegraph Sport: “There were loads of rumours after the Denmark game that people had got in illegally without tickets, so you would have thought that the security would have been extra tight after that.”