England fans restricted from buying ‘mind-bending’ absinthe – which is 70% alcohol – in Prague bars over fears drinking super-strong spirit could ‘send them crazy and out of control’ and cause outbreaks of violence in Europe’s stag-do capital
- Absinthe is a lethal beverage and it has been dubbed ‘the devil in a bottle’
- Sales will be restricted in order to avoid violence amid a huge police operation
- There are set to be around 6,000 England supporters in Prague on Friday
- England fans clashed with police abroad in Porto and Guimaraes last summer
Sales of the powerful alcoholic drink absinthe are being restricted for England fans in Prague over fears that it might cause them to hallucinate or become violent as they gather in the city for today’s match against the Czech Republic.
Bars and pubs in Prague are famous for serving absinthe, a super-strong spirit which can contain anything up to 70% alcohol. Made of wormwood, florence fenel and green anise, it has been dubbed the ‘green fairy’ or ‘the devil in a bottle,’ and is a must-have drink for many visitors to the city. It also contains thujone, a chemical with mind-bending properties.
An estimated 6,000 England fans are expected in the Czech capital for the Euro 2020 qualifier, which has resulted in a massive security operation on account of Prague’s reputation as Europe’s stag-do capital. The majority are expected to remain in the city over the weekend.
England supporters travelling abroad caused trouble in Porto and and Guimaraes last summer
Around 6,000 England fans are expected in Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic
The official ticket allocation for England fans is 3,800 for the match in Prague’s Eden Arena stadium.
Pavel Nova, who works at the Moskyt bar in Prague, told Sportsmail: ‘Absinthe is very popular for all those who visit Prague. But we know what can happen to those who drink too much; it can send you crazy and out of control.
‘England fans will be welcome to try this famous drink but we will not allow them to drink more than three shots of it. After that, we will not serve them any more absinthe. And if they are already very drunk, we will not serve them at all.’
Absinthe is drunk by mixing it with water and sugar. One of its most famous devotees was Vincent van Gogh, who was addicted to the drink and cut off his ear while under its influence. It is also believed to have contributed to his suicide.
Supporters will not be able to drink more than three shots of the lethal beverage on Friday
Eliska Reznik from Bar Ferdinanda said: ‘There is already tight security for this match and we do not want to be responsible for causing any problems by allowing England fans to drink as much absinthe as they want. Prague is known for its absinthe but this weekend is not a good time for England fans to find out what it is capable of.
‘It is a very powerful drink that can get you drunk very quickly and make you do things that you won’t remember. We are restricting its drinking for England fans for their own safety and for the safety of our beautiful city.’
Czech police are deploying special anti-riot units, helicopters and officers on horseback, in addition to hundreds of other officers who will be on duty in what is one of the biggest ever security operations in the city for a sporting event.
Around 11 British police officers are also in the city working with their Czech counterparts to help identify known troublemakers.
A gigantic Czech police operation is preparing for the arrival of England fans in the city
Earlier this week, England manager Gareth Southgate appealed to supporters of the team to be on their best behaviour. It was also reported that deputy chief constable Mark Roberts, the National Police Chiefs’ Council’s Football Policing Lead, had written to UEFA in an attempt to have the game moved – but European football’s governing body rejected the request.
The Football Association has also launched a campaign called ‘report that idiot’ calling on England fans to police themselves and report troublemakers to the police and to them.
While last year’s World Cup in Russia passed off trouble free, violence has flared at other matches, particularly those that are within easy reach and cheap to travel to, such as today’s match in Prague.
The 19,000-capacity Sinobo Stadium will host Friday night’s Euro 2020 Group A qualifier
England supporters clashed with Portuguese police in Porto and Guimaraes last summer at the Uefa Nations League and were stormed by officers armed with batons and shields.
Southgate pleaded: ‘Sadly, we are going to a place where people travel anyway for nights out from our country. What we don’t need to see is that behaviour that I am afraid happens on our own high streets.
‘It is not something that is just England supporters, it is a societal issue of people with alcohol who are unable to control themselves. We certainly don’t want to be taking that abroad and that being a representation of our country.’