Euro 2020 final 'could have been abandoned if Met Police had not intervened'

14 July 2021, 17:37 | Updated: 15 July 2021, 00:47

The Met said Sunday's game might have been cancelled if police hadn't intervened
The Met said Sunday's game might have been cancelled if police hadn't intervened. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

The Euro 2020 final on Sunday could have been called off had police not intervened, the Met has said.

A total of 19 officers were injured as a minority of fans "attempted to hijack the final for their own selfish personal gain", a senior officer said.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Jane Connors insisted the policing operation did not fail after some ticketless fans pushed through security cordons at Wembley stadium or fought against police.

"On Sunday, for the first time in more than 50 years, England had qualified for the final of a major international football tournament. This was meant to be a day of national pride, full of jubilance and celebration," Ms Connors said.

"In the main, the day was exactly that. However, it was sadly tarnished by a minority of disorderly and violent fans who attempted to hijack the final for their own selfish personal gain.

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"Throughout the course of the day, police officers witnessed disgraceful behaviour both in central London and at Wembley, where a number of people pushed through security cordons or fought with police officers.

"I share the nation's anger at this behaviour. I want to reiterate the Met's commitment to identifying those responsible for the scenes both in Wembley and in central London, their actions will have consequences."

Police told Wembley's security that ticketless fans were trying to get in ahead of England's defeat to Italy, and stewards were overwhelmed as fans pushed through, Ms Connors said.

Officers went to intervene and their "swift action prevented any further escalation", she added, with the 19 officers hurt while "confronting volatile crowds".

The aftermath of the Euros has been marred in England by racist abuse aimed at the national team's black players and reports of violence at Wembley.

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It has led to questions over whether it has affected the UK's bid to host the 2030 World Cup with Ireland.

"I do not accept that the policing operation failed and I stand by the difficult decisions made by police officers and the Met's public order commanders," Ms Connors said.

"Without their immediate intervention, it is possible that this game could have been abandoned.

"The ugly scenes at Wembley on Sunday night will rightly be reviewed by the Football Association and by police. Where lessons can be learnt we will work with partners to ensure that future matches are not disrupted by a group of hooligans who are fuelled on alcohol."

The Met said 51 people were arrested across London during the policing operation – 26 at Wembley and 25 in the capital's centre.

It expects more arrests in the days and weeks ahead.