Uefa has opened disciplinary proceedings against the English Football Association in the wake of chaotic scenes at the Euro 2020 final between England and Italy at Wembley.
Multiple eye-witness accounts and video footage confirmed that many hundreds of ticketless England supporters stormed the stadium, breaking through lines of security to watch the showpiece event.
The situation escalated into violent scenes in some instances, with other fans attacking those who reached the stadium’s concourse without a ticket. Some spectators reported having to take scared children home long before the match finished, while many others found their seat taken, including Italy fans who said they were abused when they confronted the intruders.
There appeared to be minimal police presence before the match, although riot police were seen breaking up crowds after the game. FA chief executive Mark Bullingham said Wembley’s 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. “I have to apologise to any fans whose experience was affected and any of the team who had to cope with this.”
It followed chaos which had been bubbling all day in London. Leicester Square was pictured awash with broken glass deliberately smashed by fans in the build-up to England’s first final for 55 years, which did not kick-off until 8pm on Sunday evening.
Four of Uefa’s charges concern incidents during the match itself: a pitch-invader who interrupted the game, the throwing of objects on to the field, “disturbance” during the national anthems and the lighting of fireworks. Uefa has also appointed an ethics and disciplinary inspector to conduct an investigation into “events involving supporters which occurred inside and around the stadium”.
The chaos around the match was followed by racist abuse directed at some of England’s players online in the aftermath of the lost penalty shootout. Defender Tyrone Mings criticised cabinet minister Priti Patel after she claimed to be “disgusted” by the abuse, only weeks after she had dismissed the players’ anti-racism protest – taking a knee before matches – as “gesture politics”.
It all adds up to a damning blow to both the FA and the government in their bid to host the 2030 World Cup. England could now face recriminations such as a hefty fine and having to play their next Uefa-sanctioned game behind closed doors.
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