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Last Updated: Thursday, 5 February, 2004, 12:11 GMT
'Hooligans' banned from Euro 2004
Police snatch squads target troublemakers in Brussels
Police do not want a repeat of Euro 2000 violence
Police have promised to do all they can to stop football hooligans getting to the Euro 2004 tournament in Portugal.

Over 2,000 people are banned from travelling, and the number is expected to rise further before the June event.

At a meeting on Wednesday, police announced that some officers would travel to the tournament to help the Portuguese authorities.

Officers will also be stationed at UK ports and airports during the tournament to spot known hooligans.

Police are keen to avoid a repeat of Euro 2000, which saw hundreds of England fans rioting in Belgium.

Most football supporters are quite supportive of the idea that measures...are actually targeted at the minority who commit offences
Kevin Miles
Football Supporters Federation
Before Euro 2000 there were only 100 banning orders in force, now there are more than 2,000, and police say they want to secure a further 600 before June.

On Wednesday morning, raids in Liverpool saw 16 people arrested in connection with a violent clash at a game in September.

The officer in charge said the arrests followed a five-month investigation into a fight between fans after a Tranmere Rovers versus Wrexham match.

Merseyside Police confirmed they will seek to prevent the arrested men attending any international matches, including the Euro 2004 tournament.

Drinking culture

Following the meeting in London, David Swift, the Association of Chief Police Officers' football spokesman, said: "The British police will stop as many people as possible who represent the greatest risk from travelling.

"The tough banning order legislation is working well."

England is expected to have around 50,000 supporters, more than any nation other than the hosts.

"We are working closely with the authorities here and in Portugal and with true supporters to make it a trouble-free tournament," Superintendent Smith added.

He said the policing strategy would recognise that, whilst a "substantial culture of drinking and boisterous behaviour" existed, it was distinct from the small group of hooligans intent on causing trouble.

He confirmed that a small number of undercover police officers would work as "spotters" in Portugal during the tournament.

Holiday destination

Stephen Jakobi, of pressure group Fair Trials Abroad, said that in crowded situations he feared some police officers may arrest individuals randomly.

Kevin Miles from the Football Supporters Federation said most fans would welcome the attitudes of both the UK and Portuguese police.

"Most football supporters are quite supportive of the idea that measures taken in the name of stopping trouble are actually targeted at the minority who commit offences," he told BBC Radio Five Live.

"Most people are going to go there because there's a fantastic offering of football on display, it's a great holiday venue... the combination is certainly going to be attractive.

"There's going to be a lot of people going there just to enjoy themselves and I think it's vital that the policing reflects that."


Will you be going to Euro 2004? Have the hooligans put you off? Send us your views?

Your views:

I have tickets for Euro 2004 and although I am looking forward to going to Portugal, part of me is slightly apprehensive. I've never been to a major tournament before and I hope the noises coming from the authorities is substantiated in firm action and is not just empty rhetoric. A repeat of the scenes in euro 2000 would make a dream trip become a nightmare.
Ben Goad, Bristol, England

A large and vocal minority of the people who follow the England football team abroad are thugs
T Moore, Brighton, England
I was in Marseille in 98 when England played Tunisia in the World Cup Finals and it was clear to me that a large and vocal minority of the people who follow the England football team abroad are thugs who enjoy the company of other thugs. They filled the pubs with abusive chants, launched mindless assaults and poisoned the atmosphere. It strikes me that the only way to put them off is for more and more decent minded people to follow the team abroad thus marginalising them and helping to destroy the culture in which they thrive. I think this is happening.
T Moore, Brighton, England

As an Ireland supporter I have some good advice for you guys, having been to Lisbon twice, once when we were hammered and the other when we achieved a marvellous 1-1 victory. All I can say is beware of the Portuguese police. Friendly they are not, and probably would have gone for us if we'd really shown our indignation at the way we were pushed into lines outside the stadium. I got the impression they would like to "have a go" at the slightest provocation and we all know how that's going to be reported, don't we. So I'm sorry to say I expect trouble, whether you are in the right or not.
Rory, Madrid, Spain

I will be going to Euro 2004 and the hooligan element has definitely not put me off. There is certainly a small number of England fans who are hell bent on causing trouble, however, my experience is that the apparent hooligan 'problem' is largely exacerbated by poor policing. A good example of this was at Euro 2000 where a more relaxed approach from the Dutch authorities was met with good behaviour - while in Belgium a heavy handed approach caused problems. In the main England away trips are a very positive experience - anyone who has not been on one may be surprised by the numbers of families , middle aged couples etc that do attend. Of course they are a minority but then the popular media like to focus on a minority of England fans to portray an overall image don't they?
Simon Adams, Portsmouth, England

Having had the good fortune to attend the World Cup in Japan and experience the wonderful atmosphere that prevailed, I could only wonder at the time how both this years European Championships and World Cup 2006 can match. I am wary of the fact that the hooligan element have various means of getting to Portugal other than being stopped at the airports (which is what helped make World Cup '04 work so well) and the fact that the Portuguese authorities will no doubt use a heavy hand and ask questions later, but I intend to support our team and be there for some of the time. If the event can come up to just half of the standards set by Japan & South Korea, we'll be hailing it a great success. Here's hoping the security authorities can weed out the bandits and let the majority of football lovers enjoy their moment.
Graham Balmforth, Cambridge, UK

I seriously doubt that the Portuguese authorities will be up to the task of managing problems
Nick, Godalming, UK
My wife and I have just sold our house in Portugal and moved back to the UK. A lot of Portuguese friends are already very nervous about the arrival of 'the hooligans'. Having seen the way the Portuguese police tend to deal with these types of problems, I don't want to be around if a minority start problems as the backlash is very likely to affect anyone there even slightly suspected of being English, let alone a troublemaker. I seriously doubt that the Portuguese authorities will be up to the task of managing problems in the way police do in the UK and the result could be mayhem - I don't want my memories of a wonderful country spoiled by getting caught up in that and I suggest that anyone who wants to go to see Portugal should wait until its all over.
Nick, Godalming, UK

This will be my first major footballing event outside of England that I have decided to go to. I have faith in the Authorities of both countries to stop the rabble from spoiling it for those of us that want to enjoy the atmosphere and sample the local way of life. Given half a chance we might be able to change the opinions that other nations have of the English Football Supporter!
Vincent, Oxford, England

Hooligans from other countries will attack the England supporters this summer because of our reputation. Fighting is inevitable. They can ban who they like, it just means more of the supporters who are not seen as 'hooligans' will be involved in fighting this time around.
LCFC, Leicester, England

Check with the hotel where you want to book if there will be any English persons staying
Roderik Gonggrijp, London
I'll be going to Portugal to support Holland, and hope that we will be able to avoid any contact with English supporters. My advice for anyone hoping to do the same is to try and check with the hotel where you want to book if there will be any English persons staying. If that is the case, keep searching or hope that England can go home after three matches.
Roderik Gonggrijp, London, UK

If the hooligans act up, lock 'em up and keep 'em locked up. If they don't, enjoy the matches. Don't let a few yobbos ruin a great sporting event. Sports is supposed to be above mindless behaviour. Keep it that way.
Phil, Ottawa, Canada

I'm going to Euro 2004, but am avoiding the towns England are playing in - not because I think a large number of England fans will cause trouble, but I think the fear of hooliganism is bound to lead to a tense atmosphere. It's such a shame that other nation's fans can have a great party, but our reputation means we can either join in OR watch England, not both.
Guy , London, UK

I have been to numerous league and international football matches in England and have witnessed nothing on the scale of the violence I have witnessed in Italy and Spain. Why are the English always to blame when other countries have as worse a record?
Adrian Davis-Johnston, Durham, UK

Just come and enjoy the football
Stephanie Gipson, Algarve, Portugal
I live in the Algarve, about 1 hour from the Faro-Loule Stadium. The Portuguese police are normally very reasonable. However, local papers are advertising that if trouble breaks out they will act accordingly. The Algarve is a beautiful place to be, the people are friendly, the sun always shines so just come and enjoy the football. Although I'm not a football fan it looks like being a great tournament.
Stephanie Gipson, Algarve, Portugal

I was going to go but then heard from a friend who lives in Portugal that the authorities and locals are planning on being anything but friendly, with draconian measures being put in place to prevent any fun being had whatsoever and a 'zero tolerance' approach to anything resembling boisterousness. My friend's so unnerved he's coming on holiday over here for a month.
Matt, Leeds

As an expat living in Portugal, I'm actually thinking of moving to England in June and July to avoid the hooligans...
John Baker, Lisbon, Portugal

The only hooligans that put me off are the ones who bought all the tickets and are reselling them at 10 times the original prices.
Francis, Paris, France

They should name, shame and display images of these thugs
Ray, Wiltshire
I would love to go but you just can't take a chance. They should name, shame and display images of these thugs. We, the general supporters have no way of distinguishing who we are with and therefore run the risk of being dragged into situations that pit us at "risk". These thugs are not football supporters, get them out and away from football.
Ray, Wiltshire

I was at Euro 2000, and scenes witnessed there certainly put me off from travelling abroad with England again. We witnessed running battles in the streets in both Brussels and Charleroi which made us feel uneasy the duration of the time we were there. It was an experience and not one I'd like to see again. This summer I'll be watching it from home.
Matt Stephens, Redditch, England

Yes - I'm going to Euro 2004 (and also went to Euro 2000). As is always the case - why should the actions of a minority affect the majority? What is not often reported is the thousands of 'non-hooligans' who travel abroad to watch England. When was the last time that we saw pictures of happy fans singing and dancing in the main square of a hosting town/city before a match?
Adrian Clarke, South Coast, England

It's a great shame that a hardcore minority have to spoil it for the rest of us. The spectre of sports related violent is something I have seen grow during my lifetime and hopefully given the dedication of traditional fans like myself, the sport will return to more peaceful times. Indeed, my 7-year old son and I will be attending the tournament.
Rocco Blume, London, UK

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SEE ALSO:
Uefa rejects Wales appeal
03 Feb 04  |  Wales
England plot Euro 2004 warm-up
30 Jan 04  |  England
Unit tackles soccer hooligans
20 Jan 04  |  Tees
UK police prepare for Euro 2004
13 Oct 03  |  England


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