Thousands denied entry during Euro

Between May 26, when Portugal officially suspended the Schengen accords, and June 27, officers from the Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras (SEF) refused entry into Portugal to 4,035 foreign citizens, from more than three dozen nationalities. Among the groups featuring most prominently in the list were Moroccans, Brazilians, Spanish, Pakistanis and Romanians. The main reasons for authorities refusing people entry into Portugal were the absence of appropriate identification or the presentation of false documentation.

Officers in the Algarve region refused entry to the highest number of people (2,139), followed by the Alentejo (903), the North (542) and the Centre (257). At Portuguese airports, there were 136 refusals in Lisbon, 54 in Faro and four in Porto. Throughout the month, the SEF expelled 81 people. Between June 17 and June 22 alone, following the misbehaviour of fans in Albufeira, 54 foreigners were expelled from Portugal. Of these, 51 were English, one was Dutch, one was Russian and one Swedish.

Loophole at Guadiana

But the reality of Portugal’s border controls during the tournament revealed wide anomalies. If you crossed the Guadiana Bridge from Spain to Portugal, you were required to stop and produce documentation. This was in marked contrast to the situation at the Alcoutim River. Investigators discovered they could cross the Guadiana in a Spanish vessel and reach Sanlucar de Guadiana in Portugal without being asked for any documentation. The river crossing could be undertaken in less than two minutes in a small boat at a cost of just one euro.

The Spanish commander of the embarkation pier, apparently explained to one undercover reporter that, “there were no problems crossing the water” and that there was always someone willing to transport people. Another Spanish crewmember revealed that he was prevented from entering Portugal at the Guadiana Bridge because he did not possess the necessary documentation. “An official explained to me that if I wanted to enter the country it was necessary to carry identification. I don’t understand why because here (on the water) nobody ever asks me for any documentation and I have never had any problems.”