NATIONAL SHAME: ‘Drugs and racist abuse’ marred Euro 2020 final
Young children were left in tears as people took drugs in front of them at the Euro 2020 final, and fans who challenged racist abuse and foul language were threatened with violence, a report found.
Drink and drug-fuelled aggression among the crowds was “appalling” and “recklessly endangered lives” on the day England faced Italy for the summertime showdown.
Baroness Casey’s review of the events of July 11 said had such behaviours taken place in a different environment like an airport or on public transport, perpetrators would face more serious consequences.
Referring to remarks from barrister Daniel Greenberg in advice to the report, she said there is a “lack of enforcement mechanisms to deter such behaviour within a football context”.
She said: “The extraordinary use of force to destroy stadium infrastructure and attack stewards and the police was described by many stakeholders as unprecedented.”
Among the examples set out in the review, were comments from parents whose children were affected by the behaviour of some.
One told the review: “People were taking cocaine in front of us and smoking drugs behind us.
“My sons cried for most of the game, scared by the events surrounding us.”
Another said a fan tried to hit them “because I was saying not to boo the Italian national anthem”, while a parent of a 12-year-old said they were threatened with violence when they asked “a large group of drunken, drugged men” who “spent the entire game shrieking racist chants, swear words” to tone it down.
As well as the “wave of racial abuse on social media” aimed at the three players who missed penalties for England in the deciding shoot-out, the experience was mirrored for some in the ground, the report found.
Baroness Casey called for a “national effort that truly kicks out racism and hooliganism from football and society at large” which she said would be a “fitting tribute” to the England team “and all those of us who love our national game and our country for the right reasons”.
The report said almost half of complaints to the FA after the match “referenced inadequate stewarding or stewards failing to act to address issues within the stadium”.
It said a decision to redeploy some stewards away from the inner stadium to help colleagues defend the turnstiles and pass gates was partly responsible for this.
Many of the 6,000 ticketless fans who tried to get into the stadium were “no more than mindless thugs”, Baroness Casey said.
Around 2,000 managed to get in without tickets, 400 of whom were ejected.
The clean-up operation took five full days, with 31 tonnes of rubbish left behind after the match including “masses of broken glass, with trees uprooted from the ground, with urine and faeces to deal with”.
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