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An England fan speaks to BBC Radio
"I find it absolutely disgusting"
 real 28k

A Germany fan speaks to BBC Radio
"There was no trouble between the Germans and the English"
 real 28k

Saturday, 17 June, 2000, 18:02 GMT 19:02 UK
Fans complain about 'aggressive' policing
Two sides of the story
As troubled flaired in Charleroi ahead of England's tie against Germany, BBC Sport Online's Pete Lansley brings you his eyewitness account.

By Pete Lansley in Charleroi

England fans arriving from Brussels for the Euro 2000 game against Germany claimed to have been handcuffed by police as they stepped off the train in Charleroi.

Four hours before kick off, after mounted police had already been called upon to split up rival fans in Place Charles II with water pumps, around 300 England fans arrived, some still needing tickets, from the capital where last night there were around 400 arrests.

In Charleroi there were at least 130 arrest this afternoon.

One fan, Mark from St Albans, said: "We were searched, had all our property taken from us, we were cuffed from behind with quick cuffs, split up from our friends and taken to the police station.

"We were kept in a police van in sweltering heat for about 20 minutes and if we had ID, we had to go and show it.

"I did have luckily but the others were held. The atmosphere in the train over here was excellent but about half of us are now in the police cell. I haven┐t got a clue where my friends are now.

"I understand the police┐s caution after the trouble in Brussels which I witnessed - and I do find it absolutely disgusting - and has prompted them to take these measures. But it does seem unfortunate that innocents like myself get caught up in it all."

The earlier incident in the city centre seemed to start when an England fan was arrested and Germans started to clap, according to one German eye witness, at which point the England followers started charging.

Plastic tables and metal barriers were hurled through the air. Police dressed in riot gear acted swiftly and that first incident, at about 3pm, was over in five minutes.

The police are a little bit agressive towards supporters

German fan from Stuttgart

German fan Peter, from Stuttgart, said: "There was some trouble but without any major problems. There was no punching. I was not frightened.

"If you ask me, the police of Holland and Belgium are a little bit too aggressive towards the supporters." An uneasy calm followed until around 5.30pm when there were reports of more fighting. Playing this historically highly-charged fixture in Charleroi, a small industrial town with a population of around 450,000, had been widely criticised from the time the Euro 2000 fixtures were drawn.

The small Stade Du Pays, its capacity increased to 30,000 for these championships, is tucked inconveniently in between housing estates and with only one small town centre, there was an inevitable meeting place for hooligans.

More and more roads were shut as evening approached, making a walk through the town centre almost unavoidable for supporters arriving by rail or car. In the outlying areas, there was an eerie calm amongst locals as kick-off time approached.

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