The Football Association chief executive Mark Bullingham has said that Wembley was attacked by “thousands of lawless yobs” on the day of the Euro 2020 final and that no stadium could have withstood the “six-hour siege” that followed.
In an outspoken attack on the behaviour of a crowd in the Wembley Park area that some estimates placed at 250,000, the head of the FA placed the blame squarely at the feet of those who had indulged in drunken bad behaviour and forced their way into the stadium without a ticket.
The FA has announced an independent review into the events of July 11 led by Baroness Casey of Blackstock which will try to unpick why the biggest game ever staged at the new stadium descended into such chaos.
Bullingham, who was promoted to FA chief executive in March 2019, wrote to the Conservative MP Julian Knight MP, the chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee. The FA was running Wembley Stadium that day in concert with the tournament organisers Uefa. The Police Federation has said that it was not given sufficient warning that the stadium was being breached by ticketless fans.
The FA’s view is that in the face of such numbers there was nothing it could have done to stop the mobs of intruding fans. The FA claims it went above and beyond the security requirements that were deemed necessary for the day by the local Safety Advisory Group – a multi-agency decision making body that meets ahead of major events to discuss security and risk.
Bullingham said that the scenes of misbehaviour and forced entry, many of which were caught on mobile phone video and posted on social media, were “shocking and appalling”.
He wrote: “We [the FA] were faced with thousands of yobs outside the stadium, many of whom were drunk or intoxicated in other ways. Subsequently large numbers also tried, often violently, to force their way into Wembley from public areas.
“Their behaviour was unacceptable, dangerous, often criminal and showed total disregard for the law and other people. No police officer, steward, security staff or genuine fan should be subjected to this type of sustained public disorder.
“This was disgraceful behaviour which brought shame to the whole country at a time when our incredible men’s England team had done so much to lift the mood of the nation during one of the most difficult times in our history.
“At a time when we should be celebrating the achievements of the team, we are focused on how our stadium team of police, security and stewards had to battle the horrendous actions of thousands of lawless yobs during a six-hour siege – something no stadium is set up to deal with.”
He added that the FA would “get to the bottom of what happened” inside and outside Wembley and “instigate changes for the future. He said Baroness Casey’s review would give “comprehensive answers”.