Euro 2020 final “could have been abandoned”: Police | Football news

LONDON (Reuters) – London Metropolitan Police on Wednesday defended their handling of the hooligan-tainted Euro 2020 final on Sunday at Wembley Stadium and said the flagship event could have been scrapped without their intervention.
Senior Officer Jane Connors said the Met extensively planned the match and deployed specially trained law enforcement officers who overpowered ticketless fans trying to enter the stadium.
“I do not accept that the policing operation failed and I stand by the difficult decisions made by the Met’s police and law enforcement commanders,” said the Assistant Deputy Commissioner.
“Without their immediate intervention, it is possible that this game was abandoned.”
The Met and pressured commissioner Cressida Dick have come under fire for their handling of Sunday’s game.
England supporters are said to have bribed stewards and forged tickets to enter the stadium, causing chaos which defender Harry Maguire said injured his father.
The Guardian newspaper quoted an anonymous supporter as saying ticketless fans used the Telegram messaging app to share advice about the security breach before and during the disruption, adding to anecdotal evidence of a planned breach.
Maguire said his father suffered from two suspected broken ribs and had difficulty breathing after being caught up in the incident.
Alan Maguire, 56, and Manchester United player’s agent Kenneth Shepherd have been trampled by ticketless fans desperate to watch the England-Italy game.
“It wasn’t a great experience – it shook him. It was scary. I don’t want anyone to go through this at a football match,” Maguire told British tabloid The Sun.
A 24-year-old man – identified by a pseudonym “Pablo” – told The Guardian that Telegram groups contained hundreds of people seeking tickets and help to breach security, estimating 5,000 people illegally entered Wembley .
He said fans bribed the stewards, some for just £ 20 ($ 28, 23 euros), and others forged tickets in their names by altering photographs of genuine tickets to enter.
About 300 supporters flocked through the disabled entrances when they opened, the source said, adding to several reports that some fans forced those with real tickets to go through the turnstiles.
Alan Maguire, who was injured in the violent unrest that followed, did not seek medical treatment as England supporters overwhelmed security personnel to enter the stadium and take the seats of paying spectators.
“My dad is a huge fan, he got along well. He had trouble breathing because of his ribs, but he’s not the type to make a big deal out of it,” Harry Maguire reportedly said.
“He was lucky because in every game he played he had my nephew or one of my children on his shoulders,” added the 28-year-old.
European football governing body UEFA indicted the English Football Association on Tuesday for the unsavory scenes and will appoint an “ethics and discipline inspector” to investigate pre-match incidents .
The offenses included fans booing the Italian national anthem, igniting fireworks, invading the pitch mid-match and supporters throwing objects.
Police made 86 arrests and 19 policemen were injured.
Police have vowed to investigate reports of racist abuse against the three black England players who missed penalties, which sparked a surge of support from fans.
A petition to permanently ban football matches for racists, created in response to the abuse, garnered more than a million signatures in just two days.
Maguire condemned the unruly supporters’ behavior during the match, which suggested it could harm a joint bid from the UK and Ireland to host the 2030 World Cup final.
He said fans’ actions were “totally wrong” and that his father would still go to matches but would now be more aware.
“Things could have been a lot worse but we have to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” he added.
Italy won the game 3-2 on penalties after a 1-1 draw after extra time to claim their first European Championship title since 1968.

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