British police officers have banned more than 100 English football fans, who may have been planning to cause trouble at next month’s Euro 2004 tournament, from travelling to Portugal.
The 120 fans are members of the England football team’s official fan club, Englandfans, which, ironically, has been working closely with the authorities in a bid to prevent any hooliganism at the upcoming event. The fans were banned after security checks turned up their records as thugs and criminals.
Membership of the official England fans club is supposed to be strictly controlled – fans are only allowed to join if they have no criminal record – and Englandfans members are supposed to be the friendly face of law-abiding, true sports fans. But officials have revealed that the 120 had been convicted of soccer-related offences and other illegal activities – or been filmed taking part in disturbances – since they were last vetted.
Police checks showed that far from being a friendly ambassador for the sport, one of the 120 was filmed by undercover British police officers throwing chairs while England played Portugal in Faro in February. The man has already been tracked down and is due in court soon to receive a banning order.
The true nature of the 120 Englandfans members came to light after Football Association officials ran the names of all the 10,000 Englandfans members who had applied for Euro 2004 tickets through the Police National Computer. It was then that they found 120 who had received a criminal conviction or had been filmed taking part in acts of hooliganism.
Uefa, European football’s governing body, has repeated its warning that England could be thrown out of Portugal if their fans cause trouble, as they have done abroad on countless previous occasions.
The Euro 2004 tournament will involve the biggest anti-hooligan effort ever mounted by British police. The police claim that officers will be watching every port, airport and train station in the UK to monitor British citizens leaving for the continent. The police have been briefed to ensure that none of the 2,500 fans who are the subject of banning orders leave the country while England are playing abroad. When The Resident contacted the British Home Office for a comment on how successful officials believed this policy will be, a spokesman assured us. “The UK has taken responsibility for preventing the export of its domestic football problems – our tough football law will ensure that around 2,500 English football hooligans will be prevented from travelling to Portugal.”
bought up by FA
In a further move to prevent any trouble at this summer’s England matches, the English FA has admitted that it has bought up all the remaining tickets for England’s fixtures with France and Croatia. UEFA was planning to sell the tickets through its website, but the FA will now only sell the tickets to the 19,000 vetted Englandfans members – and most already have tickets for the games. The FA admits that this means it only expects to sell around 500 of the 8,000 tickets, despite paying £60 for each one. However, it is determined that the remaining tickets don’t fall into the hands of troublemakers or touts.
An FA spokesman said: “We believed it was vital for the FA, which has been doing everything it can to ensure the good behaviour of our supporters in Portugal, that it distributed the tickets so that anybody purchasing them could be put through its rigorous security screening process.”