Ticketless fans fought with stewards and police officers and forced their way into Wembley Stadium for the Euro 2020 final between England and Italy; UEFA's disciplinary body hands England one-match ban, with one more behind-closed-doors game suspended
Tuesday 19 October 2021 06:04, UK
England have been ordered to play their next UEFA competition game behind closed doors - with one more game suspended - after crowd trouble inside and outside Wembley Stadium at this summer's Euro 2020 final.
The ban, which applies only to European competitions and not FIFA World Cup qualifiers, will be in place for England's next UEFA Nations League game in June 2022.
There were serious disturbances when England played Italy on Sunday, July 11 as ticketless fans fought with stewards and police officers and forced their way into the stadium.
UEFA's disciplinary investigators have been looking at the behaviour of England fans amid what appeared to be an ineffective security operation around Wembley for England's first appearance in a major final since 1966.
As well as the disciplinary investigation into events involving supporters inside and around the stadium, the FA faced another four charges relating to the behaviour of fans.
In addition to being ordered to play their next match behind closed doors and potentially a second - which is suspended for a probationary period of two years - for the "lack of order and discipline inside and around the stadium", the FA has also been fined 100,000 euros (£84,560) for "the invasion of the field of play, for throwing of objects and for the disturbances during the national anthems".
An FA statement read: "Although we are disappointed with the verdict, we acknowledge the outcome.
"We condemn the terrible behaviour of the individuals who caused the disgraceful scenes in and around Wembley Stadium at the Euro 2020 final, and we deeply regret that some of them were able to enter the stadium.
"We are determined that this can never be repeated, so we have commissioned an independent review, led by Baroness Casey, to report on the circumstances involved.
"We continue to work with the relevant authorities in support of their efforts to take action against those responsible and hold them to account."
The ugly scenes at July's final have raised serious questions about the FA's ability to host the World Cup in 2030 which it is considering bidding for with the other Home Nations and Ireland.
Although the final was supposed to be a day of national celebration for England, problems around Wembley became apparent at least five hours before kick-off.
There is usually a 'ring of steel' around major UEFA and FIFA finals which means only fans with tickets can get near the ground. Wembley is now surrounded by so many residential buildings, restaurants, bars and shops that barriers were set up only a few metres away from the turnstiles. All approaches to the stadium were packed with fans, many of whom had been drinking, hours before the 8pm kick-off.
Wembley's capacity for the final had been reduced from 90,000 to 60,000 because of Covid restrictions and many ticketless fans were aware there would be 30,000 empty seats in the ground.
Olympic Way was packed by 3pm and two hours later, fans were finding it difficult to reach the stadium because of the sheer volume of people. Fans reported seeing people taking drugs and urinating openly as they tried to make their way to the stadium.
By 5.45pm, the security and Covid test check cordons around the stadium had been breached as stewards and police officers were outnumbered by ticketless fans who were intent on getting into the game.
Wembley was locked down just after 6pm and police horses were brought in to try and restore order. Many fans who had tickets felt scared and intimidated when they made it into the ground only to find their seats had been taken by people without tickets who were refusing to move.
Minutes after the game had kicked off and Luke Shaw had given England an early lead, a Wembley Stadium statement denied any fans without tickets had got into the game. The statement said the authorities were dealing with an incident at the outer security perimeter of the stadium.
At half-time, Wembley released a new updated statement: "There was a breach of security and a small group of people got into the stadium. Anyone inside the stadium without a ticket will be instantly ejected."
There were many more people than seats inside the ground and with gangways blocked, many fans felt uncomfortable and there was a clear risk of people being crushed, especially behind the goal England were attacking in the second half.
The security operation after the game finished at 2am with the Metropolitan Police reporting they had made 49 arrests: "Frustratingly 19 of our officers were injured while they confronted volatile crowds. This is wholly unacceptable."
The next morning, the FA announced it had commissioned an independent review led by Baroness Casey into "the disgraceful scenes".
Kaveh Solhekol, Sky Sports News reporter
"There is also the possibility that a second game will have to be held behind closed doors depending on how England supporters behave from today going forward two years' time.
"So, if in the next two years there are any more problems at European games with England fans UEFA have the option of saying one more game at Wembley will have to be held behind closed doors.
"A lot of people will be thinking this is quite a lenient punishment.
"We have been reporting in the last 24 hours that we were expecting England to get at least a one-game ban.
"But a lot of supporters and journalists who were at that game will be thinking The FA and England have got off quite lightly because the kind of scenes we saw at Wembley that day we are not used to seeing at major finals."