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Wednesday, June 24, 1998 Published at 21:24 GMT 22:24 UK

Sport: Football

Alcohol ban for England match

Warm welcome - but no beer

The northern French town of Lens is to begin a 24-hour alcohol ban on the day of England's crucial World Cup match against Colombia.

The BBC's Adam Mynott: "This is a sweeping ban"
Only days after a police officer in the town was gravely injured by German hooligans, the town's prefect moved to prevent a repeat of ugly clashes seen on Sunday by banning sales of alcohol from 8am on Friday morning.

The ban prevents sales of alcohol from bars, shops and restaurants. Drinking in the open will also break the sweeping rules.

Thousands of England fans, many of them without tickets, are expected to turn up in the town for the critical game because the venue has excellent links to the English Channel.

But Daniel Cadoux, prefect for Lens, said 1,200 police and gendarmes and 100 plain-clothes officers would be on duty during the match.

[ image: Invasion: Lens fears thousands could arrive]
Invasion: Lens fears thousands could arrive
Mr Cadoux said the French police are working with British officers from Kent who will be monitoring Channel ports for hooligans.

Anglo-French police teams will escort English fans from the port of Calais to Lens, allowing British 'hooligan spotters' to identify potential trouble-makers.

But while many fear violence, Mr Cadoux called on Lens, the smallest of the France 98 venues, not to let hooliganism ruin a great occasion.

He said: "I have heard that parents are talking about keeping their children away from school and that shopkeepers will be putting up the shutters.

"That is completely over the top. For Lens to be a dead city on that day will be a major victory for the hooligans."

'Combat the English'

The ban in Lens comes as the French media report that the town could become the focus for confrontation between German and English hooligans.

[ image: Cadoux:
Cadoux: "Don't let hooligans ruin the day"
According to reports in France's Le Monde newspaper, government officials believe that German hooligans could be planning to "to combat the English" in Lens.

The French Interior Ministry has not commented on the report, but the newspaper continues that German police also fear clashes with English hooligans.

German border authorities said they were stepping up checks of France-bound motorists by putting an extra 800 police at crossings.

Two remain in hospital

Daniel Nivel, the French police officer injured by German hooligans on Sunday, remains gravely ill in hospital.

An English fan stabbed in Toulouse, Steven Clarke of Stourbridge, West Midlands, is reported to be improving in hospital.

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