Investigation into Euro 2020 Final at Wembley is damning
Baroness Louise Casey has published a full report of her investigation into the serious crowd disorder at the Euro 2020 final between England and Italy at Wembley. She has given vivid descriptions of frightening scenes faced by legitimate supporters, staff, stewards and police. While past experiences with smears of football fans, especially at the Hillsborough Disaster, demands the descriptions be treated with a measure of caution, it must be recognised that Casey’s findings are backed by substantial supporting evidence.
Casey describes “rife drunkenness” and “drug-use.” Police dogs were kicked, officers attacked, bodies were “flung to the floor” and families of some of the players were “scared for their lives.” In one moment of startling selfishness, an able-bodied fan stole a wheelchair and tried to get in to the stdium by posing as being disabled.
An estimated two thousands ticketless spectators managed to force their way into the stadium, and it was a matter of good fortune that there were no deaths. “We are genuinely lucky that there was not much more serious injury or worse.” The report found there had been seventeen mass breaches of disabled access gates and emergency fire doors.
Casey also pulled no punches in attacking poor organisation on the part of the authorities. She castigates a “collective failure” in planning for such a big occasion, especially the lack of contingencies in place for the extra strain caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Most worrying, Casey found evidence that, should England have won the final, up to six thousand spectators were planning to storm the stadium at full-time to celebrate as the gates opened to allow ticket-holders to leave. Had that happened, there would have been chaos and, likely, serious injuries and deaths. As Casey noted sadly of the staff at the Football Association in her report, “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.”
England will have to play one match behind closed doors, and the FA has been fined €100,000 (£84,560) by Europe’s governing football body UEFA, as a punishment for the ugly scenes.
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