A top cop in Germany has warned that England fans at the Euros opener against Serbia could face strict measures – including being hosed with water cannons – if they drink inside the stadium
England fans are facing the prospect of a booze ban at their first match in next year’s Euros.
The top cop in charge of the Three Lions’ opener against Serbia is aiming to stop supporters drinking both inside the stadium and in public areas in the German city of Gelsenkirchen. And tough-talking Peter Both has vowed to immediately send home any England fans causing trouble, using water cannons on them if necessary.
His crackdown stance will put him on a collision course with thousands of supporters as well as owners of the Euros’ official beer Bitberger, who have paid millions to sell drinks at stadiums and in official fan zones.
He will be in overall charge of security at the Serbia game, as well as England’s possible last-16 match which would also be held in Gelsenkirchen’s 62,000- capacity Veltins Arena if they end up top of their group.
In an exclusive interview with this paper, security operations director Both said: “We’re discussing the possibility of banning alcohol in the stadium and I make no secret of it. Through the spectacles of someone responsible for security and in charge of police deployment on that day, I would find it good.
“We are also currently checking at the moment to what extent we can apply banning alcohol in public places.
“In principle you’re free to drink alcohol on the street in Germany, but in big areas where fans gather in overfilled spaces we want to forbid it.”
Fans in Germany are also allowed to drink in their seats too. But booze bans similar to what Both is planning are not unprecedented at matches in the Bundesliga, the German equivalent of our Premier League, that are considered to be high risk
Mr Both is now preparing to discuss his plans with British police officials and FA bosses following a preliminary meeting at England’s Euros qualifier against Malta at Wembley last month.
He said he is expecting between 50,000 and 80,000 England fans, many without match tickets, to be in Gelsenkirchen for the Serbia game.
He said police officers will be told to consider them as “peaceful”. But he warned if they step out of line they will be swiftly dealt with.
“It’s important all police in Germany adopt a mindset of seeing the fans as peaceful rather than a threat, but we will react if something happens – and we’re prepared for that. You can’t exclude the fact that some will be coming with the intention of causing riots. My message to England fans is we will be prepared.
“If anyone does try to cause serious trouble we will move quickly and they will be sent home.”
When Germany hosted the World Cup in 2006, police banned 129 England fans from attending a quarter-final match against Portugal in Gelsenkirchen following trouble.
They were part of a group of 500 detained in Stuttgart the previous weekend.
Mr Both said riot police will be on duty alongside dog handlers, and officers on horses. And he admitted measures could even include water cannons which he described as “a last resort”. Mr Both said he wants ticketless fans to stay away from public squares in the city and instead gather in an official fanzone to be set up at a racetrack.
He said: “We know England will be given 10,000 tickets for the game here in Gelsenkirchen so we expect a lot of English supporters to be here without tickets. What is typical for English fans is they go to big public places, sit down, take their flags out and drink. If possible we want to prevent that.” Mr Both admits he will be unable to ban the sale of alcohol inside pubs on the day, but does want beer glasses banned.
He said: “One of the biggest problems is glass. Fans throw the glass so we would like to forbid glass. We’re discussing these exact things now.
“There is not the same pub infrastructure here that there is in other cities, like for example Cologne or Dusseldorf, so we are planning to use a giant racetrack as a fanzone with live TVs and all of the facilities needed.
“We’re going to try to persuade fans to go to the racetrack and we will set up shuttle buses to take them there.
“At several locations we will have fixed facilities for people where we will transport them to sober up and sleep it off in serious cases.” Asked if he would clamp down on Three Lions fans singing songs glorifying Britain’s victory over Germany in the Second World War, he said: “I know the song about Ten German Bombers, and I wouldn’t like it. But I think we’ll just have to bear it because if we were to go against one big group for one song, things would escalate.
“So instead we would say to them, ‘Let’s celebrate a peaceful festival and let’s leave these songs’.” Asked about the threat of terrorism, he said: “This event is the biggest challenge for us since the 2006 World Cup and in the current political climate, we’ll have to take it seriously and be very vigilant. But it shouldn’t paralyse us and rob us of the joy of a football festival.”
England superfan Ian Odgers, 55, said a booze ban would be a shame for well-behaved England fans like himself. He’ll be in Gelsenkirchen for the Serbia game. This Euros will be his sixth international tournament and he hasn’t missed an England game for more than a decade
Ian, of Dereham, Norfolk, said: “It’s the same old thing, it’s the few that spoil it for the majority. People will be going over there and taking things too far.
“But there again I know what it was like down Wembley Way at the last Euros. If a ban causes less trouble and hopefully gives England fans a better reputation, so be it.”