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Euro 2020 Wembley final shows we do not need more alcohol at games, says Britain’s top football cop

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Britain’s top football police officer has used the damning report into the Euro 2020 final to showcase why football fans don’t need more alcohol at games.

A fan-led review headed by Tracey Crouch MP has called on Government and the UK Football Policing Unit to work on the design of a small-scale alcohol pilot in the National League and League Two, which would allow football fans to drink in sight of the pitch for the first time in 36 years.

However, concerns have been raised by Chief Constable Mark Roberts of Cheshire Police, who heads football policing in the UK, following the independent review of the Wembley showpiece in July.

The review, overseen by Baroness Casey of Blackstock, found that the thousands of ticketless fans that shamefully stormed the national stadium to watch England vs Italy was a ‘near miss’ for fatalities, indicating that a misuse of alcohol and drugs played a part in the disorder.

Roberts is now hoping that the damning report will ‘kill’ any proposals made by Crouch and that the 36-year ban on alcohol being consumed in sight of the pitch will not be overturned. 

Britain's top football police officer insists the Euro 2020 final at Wembley shows exactly why introducing more alcohol at games is not needed

Britain’s top football police officer insists the Euro 2020 final at Wembley shows exactly why introducing more alcohol at games is not needed

Thousands of ticketless yobs stormed Wembley to watch England play Italy in Euro 2020 final

Thousands of ticketless yobs stormed Wembley to watch England play Italy in Euro 2020 final

Roberts told Sky Sports: ‘The key thing out of it now is that we need to do something with this report. This should be a watershed moment again.

‘Baroness Casey refers to a number of near-misses, let’s not wait for a tragedy, let’s act on the near misses and I think there’s a number of lessons we can take out of it that we really need to act upon.

‘She highlights the abuse of alcohol being a key thing, let’s hope that absolutely kills the recommendations of the Crouch Review, we do not need more alcohol in football. 

‘She clearly outlined the impact of drugs and cocaine, we’ve asked the government to update the Football Banning Order legislation so that class A drugs are treated in the same way as alcohol. If we can get things out of it like that then that’s a real positive.

‘I think there are wider issues in terms of how we police the area around the grounds. There is a discussion to be had as to what we deem to be unacceptable behaviour in football, we cannot pass things off as ‘laddish behaviour’, and the way we are going to have to tackle that is by the fans as well saying it is unacceptable.

Britain's top football police officer Chief Constable Mark Roberts has described the proposal as 'madness'

Football’s top football police officer Chief Constable Mark Roberts hopes the damning report into the Euro 2020 final will ‘kill’ any proposals to bring back drinking in the stands at games

‘I think we see some real positives, the vast majority of football fans are great people. I think you can see the way it has shifted with players taking the knee and how it is universally applauded now and I think that speaks to the vast majority who want to go and enjoy the national game and not be surrounded by drunken or coked-up yobs.’  

Roberts told Sportsmail last month that the inclusion of an end to the 36-year ban on alcohol being consumed in sight of the pitch seems an attempt to win popularity with supporters.

He said there has been no attempt to consult with police – five months after drunken disorder marred the Euro 2020 final and saw England forced to play a game behind closed doors. 

Roberts said: ‘This seems to be tagged onto the end of the fan-led review to curry favour with fans. ‘It’s, ‘We will let you drink.’

‘It is unpicking something which is designed to make things safer for fans. It perhaps says a lot that the police haven’t been consulted or given notice of its recommendations.

Roberts insists no more alcohol should be introduced at football games after the 'shameful' Wembley final in July

Roberts insists no more alcohol should be introduced at football games after the ‘shameful’ Wembley final in July

‘Many would say that they do not want it anyway and would not welcome fans in front of them getting up during games to go and buy alcohol.

‘It is being proposed at a time when we are seeing many worrying instances of violence at football at all levels, so the timing is bizarre. 

‘There seems to be a suggestion that if it works at the bottom of the lower league, then it will do so through the game. That is bizarre.

‘There is a clear link between alcohol and poor behaviour, not just in football but broader society, and increasingly we are seeing growing concerns in rugby and cricket about the negative impact on fans’ experiences. 

‘On Saturday, we had reports of a drunk fan vomiting on a boy who was his first rugby match when he attended Wales v Australia with his parents.’

A group of football fans storm through the security barriers at Wembley as stewards desperately try to hold them back ahead of the European Championships final at Wembley

A group of football fans storm through the security barriers at Wembley as stewards desperately try to hold them back ahead of the European Championships final at Wembley

Crouch said in response: ‘This is a recommendation entirely driven on financial sustainability at the lowest parts of the football pyramid.’ 

Much of what unfolded at Wembley was ‘foreseeable’ and there was a ‘collective failure to plan for the worst case scenario’, Baroness Casey said in her review.

In response to the report, Metropolitan Police Commander Rachel Williams said: ‘First and foremost I am deeply sorry that so many people who came to enjoy a day of football were met with unacceptable scenes of disorder.

‘We welcome the praise by Baroness Casey on the bravery of officers in directly confronting scenes of disorder. Her comments sets out the unprecedented pressure officers faced, they are a credit to policing.

‘Throughout the course of the day, this moment of national significance was tarnished by groups of ticketless, anti-social and thuggish football fans who were intent on causing disorder and committing criminal acts.

‘We regret that we were not able to do more to prevent those scenes unfolding.’

Baroness Casey said that the responsibility for the risk to life lies with ticketless fans who she said ‘attacked the stadium’.

Many of those who stormed the ground headed for disabled-pass gates, with ticketless fans targeting disabled supporters ‘in a predatory fashion near the turnstiles’.

In her scathing report, Baroness Casey wrote: ‘The drunkenness, drug-taking, irresponsibility, criminality and abuse of innocent people, including staff, families and disabled ticket-holders, was shocking and intolerable.

‘I hope the police and other authorities continue to prosecute as many of the perpetrators as possible and the courts and football authorities apply the toughest possible punishments.’

She said one of the ‘saddest’ things to emerge in the review was that the concern of FA staff was so high when it came to safety, that some were relieved the match ended in an England defeat.

She wrote: ‘While they did not want the England team to lose that night, such was their concern for what might happen in the event of an England victory, they ended up with a feeling of huge relief at the result.

‘In the end the penalty shootout went Italy’s way, the rain came down, and the crowds dispersed largely quietly. But we should not lose sight of how close the alternative was.

‘And they should never have had to feel that way anyway.’

A mass of England fans outside the stadium pushed at the ticket barriers ahead of the match

A mass of England fans outside the stadium pushed at the ticket barriers ahead of the match

But when it came to policing the crowds, the review found that the deployment of more officers on the ground came ‘too late in the day’, at a point when there was already disorder.

The review said: ‘By the time officers were on the ground, therefore, the area around Olympic Way had been taken over by significant numbers of people committing disorder, fuelled by alcohol and drug consumption.’

However Baroness Casey, who described the violence towards police as ‘appalling’ and said those responsible should face ‘severe consequences’, praised officers for working with ‘considerable skill and courage, stabilising the situation shortly after kick-off and ensuring the match was able to progress’. 

Among her national recommendations, Baroness Casey urged the Government to consider a new category for football matches of national significance, with authorities such as the police setting out what steps should be taken for such games, and to consider strengthening penalties for football-related disorder.

She also called for a review of stewarding, an agreement on who is accountable for the area of public space outside the stadium used by supporters (known as Zone Ex), and an FA-led national campaign to change attitudes towards supporter behaviours.

Specific recommendations for the FA and Wembley include strengthening safety plans, a more joined-up approach between Wembley and the Met to manage public safety on match days, and key partners ‘to make a concerted effort to proactively solicit and listen to each other’s concerns and avoid any single agency from becoming too dominant’.

A Government spokesperson said: ‘The Casey Report rightly highlights that responsibility for the reckless and criminal behaviour at the Euro 2020 final lies with a small minority of individuals who sought to undermine the day for the overwhelming majority of genuine football fans at Wembley Stadium.

‘The UK has a long and successful record of hosting major international sporting events, and the Government will now work with the police and football authorities to consider the report’s recommendations in full and ensure lessons are learned.’

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