The British government has today published an extensive report on the widespread bedlam that preceded the Euro 2020 final at Wembley stadium, and concluded that the FA were lucky that there were no fatalities at the match.
"I am clear that we were close to fatalities and/or life-changing injuries for some, potentially many, in attendance," says Louise Casey at the beginning of her report entitled "independent Review of events surrounding the UEFA Euro 2020 Final ‘Euro Sunday’ at Wembley".
The report lays out in shocking detail just how unprepared Wembley security was for the rampaging horde of louts who stormed the Wembley turnstiles in the hours before kickoff. One steward describe it as "hand-to-hand combat, groups of 40-50 men at a time".
England fans have now broken through the barricades near Wembley Stadium. This is why they can't have nice things.pic.twitter.com/KryHdxU40p
— Balls.ie (@ballsdotie) July 11, 2021
There is also disturbing detail about the methods used by ticketless England supporters to enter the stadium.
The report says that the disabled entrance was specifically targeted. It concludes "ticketless fans targeted disabled supporters in a predatory fashion near the turnstiles".
One parent who provided testimony said his son was 'hijacked' by a ticketless fan in a hi-vez vest who was pretending to be a steward.
"He’s then taken [son’s] wheelchair and pushed it towards the door…Just as we got to the door we twigged what was going on and it turned out he’s just an England fan in a high-viz jacket that was literally hijacking a wheelchair to get into the stadium."
Another spoke of the horror his child experienced at the turnstiles amid the crush of ticketless fans.
The problem was getting each and every time the stewards opened the disabled gates to let [my son] or any wheelchair user in, they were met with a rush of non-paying people charging the gate barging past and pushing disabled people and stewards out the way. I myself had to physically guard [my son] to get in through the gate.”
“My son, who needs 24/7 care, was stuck in the middle of this in his wheelchair. He is unable to move due to DMD [Duchenne muscular dystrophy]. Both English and Italian fans came to help him. He would have been badly hurt. It ruined his experience.”
Here's how a member of the security team described the bedlam..
“You had people jumping over fans in wheelchairs. It wasn't human behaviour. You don't expect people to behave like that."
The report is also a catalogue of violence experienced by many punters. One fan spoke of being attacked because he told a supporter to respect the Italian anthem.
“One fan tried to hit me personally because I was saying not to boo the Italian national anthem. I witnessed a fight by the bar area and that was set off just because somebody bumped into someone else."
Another spoke of the 'racist chants' sang by a gang of young men throughout the match.
"A large group of drunken, drugged men (25yrs old approx.) suddenly filled the area around us and spent the entire game shrieking racist chants, swear words etc behind my 12yr son, when I asked them to tone it down due to my son being there they threatened violence etc."
The report shares a conclusion that the rest of the world already knew: it was a small mercy that England lost to Italy in penalties.
According to the crowd safety expert Eric Stuart who assessed the event, a greater disaster was prevented by England's defeat, and the rain that fell over London that night.
“The prospect of a surging, ingressing drunken crowd in the event of England victory at the same time as the crowd is egressing is a frightening one. Had the weather not turned wet, and had England won the game, the consequences need little imagination.”