FA on ‘high alert’ to avoid crowd trouble on England trip to Germany in June

The Football Association are sending a high-security operation to Munich next month, amid concerns that a rise in anti-social behaviour will see unrest around England’s Nations League against Germany, and potentially see another home game played behind closed doors due to a Uefa suspended sentence.

Since the match is the first away game accessible to supporters since Czech Republic in October 2019, and comes the night after the anniversary of D-Day, there is “high alert” within the federation about a resumption of trouble.

The issue had been a growing concern in the years before the pandemic, but the rise in recent incidents around English stadiums – as well as the historical context of the game – have seen the FA go all-out in trying to prevent problems.

A UK police delegation and a team of 12 stewards from Wembley will be sent to Munich for what is seen as “a unique away trip”, with widespread messaging to fans to be “respectful”.

The FA are all the more conscious because it is known that Uefa are “looking at England behaviour and England supporter behaviour”, in the wake of the trouble around the Euro 2020 final. The chaos from that day saw English punished by having to play behind closed doors for their next Uefa home game, a Nations League match at Molineux, coincidentally, against Italy. A further home game behind closed doors was suspended but any trouble from England fans, even in away games, could see that sanction invoked.

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The FA have already conducted a trip to Munich as a consequence, to consult with the local police. It has been agreed that a UK police delegation consisting of six spotters and three or four public order ‘Silver Commanders’ will travel for the days around the game. There will also be 12 stewards who have experience on away trips stationed at entrances to the stadium and ticket collection points.

England have been granted 3,466 tickets for the match, and had 6,000 applications, with the ballot set to take place this week. As ever with away games, the FA’s main concern is not those going with tickets as part of the England Supporters’ Travel Club, but a younger group who engage in “anti-social sporadic behaviour” as part of “stag do-like trips”.

Since Munich is already a popular destination for such parties, and this is the first post-pandemic trip, there is a concern it will see thousands travel without tickets. The fact it has now been three years without such a game also raises new complications, since it means there is the potential for trouble-making supporters that are unvetted.

The FA have conducted 70,000 checks on people who have applied for ESTC membership since 2014, and are insistent that they don’t want anyone representing England that has a bad reputation. While fans can be kicked out of the supporters’ group, though, they can’t necessarily be stopped from travelling.

There are currently 1,122 football banning orders in place and 880 people will have to hand in their passports before the Germany game.

While these are relatively low numbers historically, most of England’s last few big trips have involved trouble. These include Seville, Porto, the most recent trips to Germany which were to Dortmund and Berlin, as well as one especially fractious match in Amsterdam in 2018 which saw 114 arrests.

On the night, fans will have a separate entrance, and nobody will be allowed to drink alcohol in the stadium. The FA team and delegation will also be in Munich from Sunday 5 June to Wednesday 8 June.

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