Wednesday, June 19, 2024

German police expecting invasion of ‘hundreds of hooligans at Euros’

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A German police chief has revealed hundreds of football hooligans are expected to travel to the country for the Euro 2024 tournament. Over the weekend, an Express investigation revealed that thugs and neo-Nazis were already claiming in messages on the encrypted app Telegram to be preparing to disrupt the competition.

But, ahead of England’s clash against Serbia in Gelsenkirchen on Sunday, local police boss Peter Both reassured supporters he did not believe a repeat of France 2016 was in store. The tournament eight years ago was marred by violence after ultras travelled from as far away as Russia to cause havoc.

“We don’t have any, concrete intelligence or information about hooligans who have come from Serbia and, Russia as well as other countries for the upcoming tournament. But I can’t rule it out and I expect a few hundred maybe will come to Germany,” he told the Express.

“But we are prepared for any kind of hooliganism and will have a lot of police officers on duty next Sunday.

“Our units will keep a low profile. But if individuals or groups engage in violent behaviour police units will be there to intervene and take proactive action.

“We have spotters from Serbia, England and countries all over Europe. They [will] know who are the ultras and hooligans.”

Both also played down the threat posed by local German fan groups.

Gelsenkirchen is home to Schalke 04 who in 2019 had one of the club’s ultra group ‘Die Hugos’ members allegedly beat a Manchester City fan up so badly he was hospitalised.

Two years ago an unknown group German hooligans attacked England fans in a vicious pre-meditated ambush of the Green Man pub in Wembley before an international game between the two nations.

But Both said there was no intelligence to suggest such clashes would occur during Euro 2024.

“I don’t expect there to be groups of German ultras on Sunday because the German organised supporters are not interested in the upcoming tournament. They don’t like UEFA and they don’t like this tournament,” he added.

England’s last appearance at the European Championships was marred by the horrendous scenes of disorder that preceded the Euro 2021 final, when thousands of ticketless fans attempted to storm Wembley and gain access to the game.

Discussing his role as the first police chief to handle the hoarders of English supporters at a major European competition since that disgrace Both said Gelsenkirchen’s plans meant anything close to a repeat was impossible.

“We have what we call the ultra-security perimeter far away from the stadium,” he explained.

“This is first stop, where we search them, check and control them. In smaller groups, we will bring them to the stadium.

“So I don’t expect that anything will happen like before. Also, we have a riot control unit in the immediate vicinity of the stadium so if somebody tries to go in without a ticket we will intervene.”

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