An independent review of the violence surrounding the Euro 2020 final has found that there would have been ‘horrific consequences’ had England beaten Italy at Wembley Stadium.
The review, led by Baroness Casey of Blackstock, details how there were a number of “near-misses” on 11 July which could have resulted in serious injuries or deaths.
The violence that marred the occasion saw 6,000 ticketless individuals breach security to gain entry to the stadium.
“Horrific” consequences would have followed a victory for Gareth Southgate’s side, an official from the London emergency services has claimed.
The official added: “I can guarantee that we would have been on our knees.”
While an official from the Sports Grounds Safety Authority added: “Thank God England lost. If they had won you would have to open the doors to let people out and the stadium would have been stormed.”
The review confirmed there were 17 “mass breaches” with up to 2,000 ticketless fans gaining entry for England’s match with Italy.
While there were also 400 fans ejected as the review detailed the extent of the problems surrounding stewarding for the match in London.
The review confirmed: “There were problems relating to stewarding during the tournament and that these problems were known to the FA and its partners... ahead of the final.”
:: The behaviour of some individuals recklessly endangered lives, and there were a series of crowd near-misses that could have led to serious injuries or deaths.
:: Planning and preparation for the final was hampered by unique conditions which created a perfect storm. Covid-19 restrictions had been eased but enforcement of public health measures created a “fundamental tension” with the need to effectively manage the crowds.
:: There was a collective failure by the organisers to plan for the worst-case scenario.
:: A loss of experienced stewards due to the pandemic left the stewarding operation vulnerable.
:: The absence of a fan zone removed a “key crowd management tool” and was likely a “very significant factor” in the chaos that ensued.
:: Insufficient enforcement of alcohol bans on public transport.
:: Policing did not do enough to mitigate the risk of ticketless fans, and officers were deployed too late.
:: Planning for the final did not match the national significance connected to the occasion.
Recommendations for national consideration:
:: The government should consider a new category of matches with national significance.
:: The government should consider tasking the Sports Grounds Safety Authority (SGSA) to work with the FA and the event industry to undertake a review of stewarding.
:: The SGSA, the events industry, the police and local government should agree on a way forward on who is accountable for Zone Ex, also known as the ‘last mile’ around a football ground.
:: The FA should lead a national campaign to bring about a sea-change in attitudes towards supporter behaviours.
:: The government should consider strengthening the penalties for football-related disorder.
More to follow...