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The BBC's Paul Newman
"The behaviour of England supporters will be more closely supervised"
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The BBC's Neil Bennett
"It's difficult to see how the government can come up with something new"
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Tony Blair
"The vast majority of fans are decent people"
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Monday, 19 June, 2000, 03:37 GMT 04:37 UK
Government rejects Uefa criticism
Police in Belgium
Police in Belgium operated a zero tolerance policy
The UK Government has rejected Uefa's criticism that it did not do enough to stop English hooligans travelling to Euro 2000.

European football's governing body has threatened to throw England out of the tournament in Belgium and Holland if there is more violence.

Hundreds of English fans were arrested in Charleroi and Brussels over the weekend.

Uefa said it was "disgrace" to England and its team - but the government says it did all it could to stop the hooligans.

Home Secretary Jack Straw is to address MPs in the House of Commons on Monday afternoon.

Uefa threatened England with expulsion on Sunday, saying: "The world expects Uefa to take a stand."

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Violence may sink England's 2006 World Cup bid

Home Office Minister Lord Bassam said the government understood Uefa's anger but did not accept that it was at fault.

"We do not accept the criticism made of the actions of the British authorities," he said.

"The British Government and police service have been working tirelessly with counterparts in Belgium and Holland over many months in the run-up to Euro 2000. We will continue to work very hard in co-operation with them."

Lord Bassam, who was in Belgium for Saturday's match, rejected suggestions from Tory shadow home secretary Ann Widdecombe that tougher laws would have prevented trouble-makers from attending the tournament.

We are serious, this cannot go on. It will kill football.

Lennart Johansson, Uefa president
He said that the vast majority of those arrested in Belgium had no record of football-related violence.

"So far, on the information we have received, the pattern of arrests in Belgium suggests that even if we had had in place more extreme powers to remove passports from suspected hooligans, such legislation would have had little or no impact in preventing the problems that occurred over the weekend."

The Home Office said earlier that none of the 200 fans deported from Belgium had been on the suspect index list.

And 500 people who were known as suspected hooligans had been prevented from travelling to the tournament.

Speaking at an EU summit in Portugal, UK Prime Minister Tony Blair said: "Hopefully this threat will bring to their senses anyone tempted to continue the mindless thuggery that has brought such shame to the country."

Belgian riot police
Riot police cracked down on troublemakers

Uefa chief executive Gerhard Aigner told a news conference: "Uefa will have to determine whether the presence of the English team in the tournament should be maintained should there be a repetition of similar incidents."

While it acknowledged the behaviour of fans in the stadia, and the England team itself, had been "excellent", Uefa said it was concentrating fire on those out to "destroy" the championship.


Uefa president Lennart Johansson warned: "We are serious, this cannot go on. It will kill football."

The chief executive of the Football Association, David Davies, also condemned "utterly and without reservation" the actions of the "thugs and criminals" involved in violence in Brussels and Charleroi.

Kevin Miles, co-ordinator of the Football Supporters' Association fans' embassies at the tournament, said Uefa's proposal would punish innocent fans for the actions of a minority.

Expelled fans have been arriving back in Britain after being flown or ferried from Belgium handcuffed and under heavy guard.

Some English supporters have criticised the Belgian police as being "heavy-handed and indiscriminate".

A total of 824 fans were detained by the Belgian authorities between Friday and Sunday, most of them English.

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17 Jun 00 | Euro2000
England beat Germany - at last
06 Jun 00 | Euro2000
Police get tough on hooligans
14 May 00 | Photo Gallery
England v Germany - The History
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