Mon. Sep 27th, 2021

Euro 2020: Met denies Wembley police operation failed

Image of Wembley euro 2020

The Met Police has denied its policing operation at the Euro 2020 final failed, claiming it had warned Wembley that many ticketless fans were on the way.

Fans fought with stewards and police as they attempted to break through gates for Sunday’s England v Italy match at the stadium.

The force said police action may have prevented the match being called off.

Police and the Football Association are reviewing how the match was handled.

One football supporter who got in without a ticket told the BBC that stewards were accepting bribes as fans broke in through a disabled entrance.

The man, from Birmingham, said he had joined a social media chat group called “Wembley Jib” where between 3,000 and 4,000 people exchanged tactics for breaking into the stadium.

“Jibbing” is football slang for getting in without paying.

He said: “When we got there at 13:00 we were hanging around and a Wembley steward came up asking if we’d got tickets. We said no and he said ‘do you want to give me money to get in?'”

“He said it would be £500 each. I had only taken out £250 for a bribe.”

The fan claimed that even when people were thrown out of the stadium they were not escorted away and simply tried to get back in.

“There were police officers there about 50 in groups of 10. They were standing too far back though, weren’t getting involved or were too late if something happened.”

The FA said the majority of the trouble happened in areas that were the responsibility of police.

The Met’s statement appeared to be aimed at defending itself against suggestions poor policing was to blame for an incident which may threaten Britain’s chances of bidding for the 2030 World Cup.

Sources say it is unusual for officers in riot gear to be sent from the start in such large numbers to police a football match.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Jane Connors said the operation at Wembley was “one of the most significant and comprehensive policing plans the Met has ever committed to a football match of this scale”.

She said: “Police commanders recognised this could result in ticketless fans attempting to get into the stadium; they updated security officials at Wembley of this risk.”

She added that stewards at the stadium became “overwhelmed” soon after the gates opened.

“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,” she said.

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

In a BBC interview on Tuesday the FA claimed the majority of the trouble was in Wembley Way, outside the stadium, in an area which was the responsibility of the police.

Twenty-six people have been arrested following events at Wembley and another 25 in central London.

The anonymous fan who spoke to the BBC said people were chanting “jib, jib, jib” and people were discussing whether to attempt it on Twitter for days before the match.

He and friends showed a video on their phones of an e-ticket being verified to stewards to gain access to the outer perimeter.

They abandoned an attempt to “tailgate” legitimate ticket-holders before pushing their way into the main stadium through a disabled entrance.

“The ticketed fans attacked those with no tickets and although once inside it wasn’t crowded, there was pushing and squeezing to get in,” the man added.

“If England were in a final and I didn’t have a ticket I’d do it again.”

It is likely many of those trying to get access did so because they knew there would be a large number of empty seats due to Covid restrictions.

Source: (BBC News)