England have been ordered to play at least one match behind closed doors after the Football Association were hit with a stadium ban for the violence that marred the Euro 2020 final.
UEFA have ruled English football’s governing body will face a two-game stadium ban, one of which Is suspended, and a 100,000 Euros fine for the chaotic scenes that ruined the European Championship final between England and Italy on July 11.
Sportsmail revealed last month that the FA requested a personal hearing to fight the prospect of a stadium ban amid fears that they would have to play at least one match behind-closed-doors – with those concerns now a reality.
The FA had stressed to UEFA that European football’s governing body were kept fully updated with the policing and security measures in place for the final between England and Italy in hope of minimising their punishment.
Nevertheless, UEFA were so disappointed with the disgraceful scenes in the lead up to the final that they have dished out a ban on supporters.
Today, the FA said it ‘deeply regrets’ that hooligans were able to enter the stadium and stressed that it continues to work with the authorities to bring them to account.
Following the final, the FA moved quickly to commission an independent review of the events surrounding the match, led by Baroness Casey.
Football fans stormed through the security barriers at Wembley just moments ahead of England’s nail-biting fight against Italy, leading to Covid checks being abandoned
Police imposed an unprecedented operation for the clash between England and Italy, but that wasn’t enough to prevent the appalling behaviour of thousands of ticketless supporters.
The families of England players were forced to escape from yobs who infiltrated their way inside the stadium, while others were victims of attempted ticket thefts and lawless queues at various entrance points.
An estimated 250,000 fans were on the peripheries of the stadium ahead of kick-off, with thousands of revellers participating in anti-social behaviour – including drug taking and urinating in public.
UEFA said in a statement, it would ‘order the English Football Association to play its next two UEFA competition matches as host association behind closed doors, the second of which is suspended for a probationary period of two years from the date of the present decision, for the lack of order and discipline inside and around the stadium’.
The affected game is likely to be a Nations League fixture in June. The draw for Nations League is December 16. England could play the likes of France, Spain, Italy or Belgium in front of no fans.
And the European body added it would ‘fine the English Football Association €100,000 for the lack of order and discipline inside and around the stadium, for the invasion of the field of play, for throwing of objects and for the disturbances during the national anthems’.
Under UEFA’s rules, the FA are responsible for the behaviour of the England supporters.
On the day of the final, which kicked off 8pm on a Sunday, huge crowds had gathered on Olympic Way, the approach to the stadium.
Fuelled by alcohol and dancing on broken glass that was thick across the pedestrianised street from Wembley Park underground station all the way to outskirts of the ground, some fans partied hard lighting flares, scaling lamp posts and sitting atop of any accessible roof.
Fans gathered on Olympic Way outside Wembley ahead of the Euro 2020 final
Thousands decided to try their luck and illegally grab one of the 30,000 vacant seats at Wembley after the capacity for the game had been cut from 90,000 to 60,000 in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Supporters were able to reach almost to the perimeter of the stadium without any ticket checks. At that point fans were required to show their Covid certification in order for tickets to be activated.
However, gangs of fans without tickets burst through the outer cordon and targeted turnstiles and security gates of the stadium itself. An estimated 5,000 yobs gained entry.
In the confrontations that broke out around the stadium, 19 police officers were injured and many fans were left terrified.
Even so, as reported by Sportsmail last week, a report from the Home Office on football-related crime suggests only 39 people were arrested in connection with the disorder.
A mass of England fans outside the stadium pushed at the barriers ahead of the match
WORLD CUP BID UNDERMINED
The United Kingdom’s joint World Cup 2030 bid with the Republic of Ireland is set to be rejected by UEFA, after the appalling scenes at Euro 2020 undermined support.
Sportsmail reported on Saturday that European football’s governing body will try to encourage the UK and Ireland to focus instead on Euro 2028, which UEFA will support if the home nations agree to give up on the World Cup.
Sources in the Irish government and UEFA suggest a Spain-Portugal bid on behalf of Europe has the ‘only realistic chance of winning at FIFA’.
The UK and Irish bid is undergoing a £2.8 million feasibility study.
In recent days, though, word has reached Ireland’s Department of Sport that ‘the UK and Ireland bid was effectively over before it began’, with Spain and Portugal enjoying popular support at UEFA HQ.
A key reason for UEFA asking the home countries to back down is that many in the governing body do not believe the tender has any chance of gaining enough votes across Europe.
That is partly down to the appalling behaviour at the Euro 2020 final, when thousands of drunken fans broke into Wembley, stealing seats from ticket-paying supporters in awful scenes which were beamed around the world.
MPs on the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee are due to examine the UK’s 2030 World Cup bid at a meeting on Tuesday.
According to the Home Office, 96 arrests for football-related offences at Euro 2020. Of these, 90 were at games played by England at Wembley.
However, only one England fan has been convicted of causing trouble at the Euros.
A further 25 have been arrested following appeals to the public for information.
The Metropolitan Police say their figures show 129 people were arrested throughout the whole of the Euro 2020 championship, however this figure is not limited to ‘football-related’ crimes and includes general offences detected by the policing operations, such as theft.
Of the arrests, 19 have been charged, 10 have been issued with cautions and 16 have been issued with penalty notices for disorder. Three of those arrested have been referred to youth offending teams.
The remaining 104 people have either been released under investigation or bailed pending further enquiries.
Huge crowds gathered outside Wembley, including many without tickets, before the final
While the Met Police’s arrest figures are higher it is understood they include general crimes, such as theft, and are not specifically football-related.
Following the events the FA announced it had commissioned an independent review led by Baroness Casey of Blackstock into ‘the disgraceful scenes’.
However, it was not just the breach of Wembley’s perimeter that caused dismay at the final.
Inside the stadium, the Italian national anthem was vociferously booed by England supporters despite the Three Lions manager, Gareth Southgate, asking fans to desist from the disrespectful behaviour before the game.
The FA had already been fined £30,000 by UEFA for three incidents during the 2-1 win over Denmark in the semi-final of the tournament, including what they described as ‘disturbances during the anthems’.
A group of football fans storm through the security barriers at Wembley as stewards desperately try to hold them back ahead of the Euro 2020 final at Wembley
Watching aghast: A fan draped in England flag looks on as supporters with tickets brawl with the invaders
The semi-final sanction also related to a laser pointer being shone in the eyes of Danish goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel and a separate moment which saw flares let off during the encounter.
The final, four days later, was disrupted further when a reality TV wannabe, Adam Harison, forced the match to be halted temporarily when he vaulted advertising hoardings, ran on to the pitch and initially evaded capture by stewards.
Harison, took to social media to celebrate his stunt and was identified as a musician who previously appeared on Little Mix: The Search.
Following the announcement of the UEFA sanctions, The FA issued a statement.
‘Although we are disappointed with the verdict, we acknowledge the outcome of this UEFA decision,’ said a spokesman.
‘We condemn the terrible behaviour of the individuals who caused the disgraceful scenes in and around Wembley Stadium at the EURO 2020 Final, and we deeply regret that some of them were able to enter the stadium.
‘We are determined that this can never be repeated, so we have commissioned an independent review, led by Baroness Casey, to report on the circumstances involved. We continue to work with the relevant authorities in support of their efforts to take action against those responsible and hold them to account.’
The disturbances at July’s final have raised questions about the FA’s ability to host the World Cup in 2030. The Football Associations of the Home Nation are considering a bid to stage the competition.