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Storming of Wembley Stadium during Euro final described as 'England's day of shame'

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London, Dec 4 (IANS) A damning review of disorder at London’s Wembley Stadium has said that ticketless, drunken and drugged-up thugs could have caused death as they stormed the stadium.

The review, led by Louise Casey, examined the events at Wembley in the run-up to the Euro 2020 final between England and Italy, when around 2,000 people managed to gain illegal entry into the stadium.

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Casey on Friday described the scenes of disorder as a day of national shame. Italy went on to beat England on penalties to become European champions.

Following the incident, England were given a one-match stadium ban and fined 100,000 euros by European football’s governing body UEFA, Xinhua reports. In her report, Casey said there had been a collective failure in planning for the match on July 11. This included a vulnerable stewarding operation lacking experience partly because of the COVID-19 pandemic and a police deployment arriving too late.

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Casey added the knowledge that 25,000 of the stadium’s 90,000 seats would be left empty because of COVID-19 restrictions contributed to a perfect storm of factors.

“Our team of role models were in our first major final for 55 years. However, they were let down by a horde of ticketless, drunken and drugged-up thugs who chose to abuse innocent, vulnerable and disabled people, as well as police officers, volunteers and Wembley staff,” said Casey.

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“We are genuinely lucky that there was not much more serious injury or worse, and need to take the toughest possible action against people who think a football match is somehow an excuse to behave like that,” she added.

The report said there had been a collective failure among the organisations who staged the final to plan for the foreseeable risk of disorder and ticketless fans converging on the stadium. Alcohol and drugs were a key factor in the disorder as fans arrived at the stadium up to eight hours before kick-off.

Casey, who made a number of recommendations to avert a repeat of the events, said authorities should be empowered to act more strongly against fans using drugs, flares and smoke bombs at matches and around stadiums, and entering stadiums without a ticket.

Responding to the report, Football Association CEO Mark Bullingham said the lessons learned from this review will ensure that fans have a good experience at major international events at Wembley, as they have for many years.

“Collectively we must never allow this to happen again. We fully accept the report’s findings and there are important learnings for us, as well as other agencies involved.”

–IANS

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