Soccer-UK lawmakers demand answers from FA over Wembley scenes

·3-min read
Euro 2020 - Final - Fans gather for Italy v England

LONDON (Reuters) - The chairman of the UK parliament's committee for sports issues has asked the head of England's Football Association for an explanation of the chaotic scenes at Wembley stadium for Sunday's Euro 2020 final.

Fans, many of whom had been drinking for hours, engaged in unruly behaviour outside the ground and later large groups without tickets breached security cordons, assaulting staff and charged into the perimeter area of Wembley before the start of Sunday's game, which Italy won in a penalty shootout.

British police said 19 of its officers were injured while 86 people, including 53 at the venue, were arrested.

European soccer's governing body UEFA opened disciplinary proceedings against the FA in relation to the incidents which also included a fan running on the pitch during the game.

Julian Knight MP, chair of the parliament's Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, has written to the FA's chief executive Mark Bullingham demanding an explanation.

"I am shocked and appalled by the violence seen at Wembley for Sunday’s final. These culturally significant events should inspire the next generation, not leave reports of children being terrified," said Knight.

"We have concerns about whether the preparations for the event were sufficient and are requesting urgent answers from the FA. Given the situation, what planning had been done for people ‘storming’ the stadium?

"We and the public deserve to know what went wrong and how the FA intends to keep people safer in future," he added.

The Committee has requested details from the FA by July 20 on the preparations taken in terms of security and policing, the numbers of people who forced entry, what action was taken and what training given to stewards.

The FA did not immediately respond to Knight's statement.

London Metropolitan Police deputy assistant commissioner Jane Connors issued a statement on Wednesday defending their operation at Wembley.

“Ahead of the final, police commanders deployed one of the most significant and comprehensive policing plans the Met has ever committed to a football match of this scale. In Wembley, soon into the day it became clear that a high number of fans were arriving without tickets," said Connors, who added that extra public order officers were then sent to Wembley.

“Soon after gates opened, the stewarding and outer security perimeter became overwhelmed and fans began pushing through security checks. I want to praise the quick response by police commanders and those brave officers who confronted these subsequent scenes of disorder and violence.

“I am in no doubt that their swift action prevented any further escalation. Frustratingly, 19 of our officers were injured during the course of Sunday's policing operation when confronting volatile crowds.

“I do not accept that the policing operation failed and I standby the difficult decisions made by police officers and the Met’s public order commanders. Without their immediate intervention, it is possible that this game could have been abandoned."

(Reporting by Simon Evans; Editing by Christian Radnedge)

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting