Wembley steward 'had pockets stuffed with cash bribes' as thugs gatecrashed Euro 2020 final

·4-min read
Soccer Football - Euro 2020 - Final - Fans gather for Italy v England - Wembley Stadium, London, Britain - July 11, 2021 Police officers stand guard as England fans gather during the match Action Images via Reuters/Peter Cziborra
Riot police in front of England fans at Wembley during Sunday night's Euro 2020 final. (Reuters)

The violence inside Wembley in the build-up to the Euro 2020 final that saw fans clash with each other and stewards is to be investigated by the FA.

There was chaos on Sunday as hundreds of England fans without tickets pushed past security and hurdled barriers to make their way into the stands.

Now it has been claimed that at least one steward took cash bribes to allow ticketless England fans into the ground.

The Times reported on Tuesday that one ticket holder, who did not want to be named, had seen a steward taking money to let people past security.

Watch: Ticketless fans breach security at Wembley

“It was shocking,” she told the newspaper. 

“I’ve never seen anything like it in my life. It was a large wad of cash. His pockets were full of money.”

She said that, once inside the ground, she repeatedly told stewards there were ticketless fans, but that one supporter produced a knife he had hidden in his hair when challenged.

UEFA has now opened its own disciplinary investigation into the chaotic scenes, with England at risk of being handed a stadium ban.

Another England supporter, TV presenter Matthew Stadlen, said that a steward at Wembley told one of his friends they had accepted bribes from supporters to let them into the stands.

Stadlen described security at Wembley as an “absolute shambles”, saying he was “gobsmacked by the lack of policing” at the stadium.

People without tickets forced their way past stewards at a disabled access point at Wembley on Sunday.
People without tickets force their way past stewards at a disabled access point at Wembley on Sunday.
Wembley stewards try to hold back ticketless fans at Wembley on Sunday.
Wembley stewards try to hold back ticketless fans at Wembley on Sunday.
People without tickets push their way into the ground.
People without tickets push their way into the ground.

Footage posted on social media showed ticketless fans forcing their way through barriers and a line of security staff before rushing up the escalators.

There were reports of genuine ticket-holders being afraid to confront ticketless people who had taken their seats.

FA chief executive Mark Bullingham told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Monday: “We will do a full review and we will work with the police to catch anyone involved and make sure we can prevent it ever happening again.

“Anyone caught will obviously be banned and have the right action taken against them.”

The FA said the review would be conducted alongside the Metropolitan Police, the Greater London Authority, the Safety Advisory Group and tournament stakeholders. 

The FA defended the level of stewarding and security in place for the match, saying it “exceeded the requirements for the match” and was “greater than any other previous event at Wembley Stadium”.

A spokesperson said: “The behaviour of the people who illegally forced their way into the stadium was unacceptable, dangerous and showed total disregard for the safety and security protocols in place.

“No steward or security staff should be subjected to this type of behaviour and we thank them for their support on the night.”

Bullingham said some “drunken yobs” had tried to force their way in, and added: “We run a stadium, not a fortress. We have got a fantastic security team at the stadium and they had never seen anything like it.”

Videos were posted on social media of people being attacked within the stadium concourses, while away from the stadium there was also disorder in other areas of London.

The Metropolitan Police said there had been 86 arrests connected to the match, including 53 at Wembley, for a variety of offences and 19 officers had been injured as they confronted “volatile” crowds.

Soccer Football - Euro 2020 - Final - Fans gather for Italy v England - Wembley Stadium, London, Britain - July 11, 2021 Police officers stand guard as England fans gather outside Wembley Stadium during the match Action Images via Reuters/Peter Cziborra
England fans blocked by riot police outside Wembley Stadium during Sunday's game. (Reuters)

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Laurence Taylor said: “We spent a lot of time encouraging and asking people not to turn up if they hadn’t got a ticket prior to the event, and clearly a lot of people chose to ignore us.

“I don’t think anybody was expecting large numbers of people to try and incur into the stadium.

“As soon as it became clear that was happening, stewards reacted very quickly and police were deployed to the stadium to prevent the situation from becoming worse.”

The scenes of disorder can have done little to aid any UK and Ireland bid for the 2030 World Cup, with a decision on whether to bid for the centenary tournament due to be taken in the first half of 2022.

Watch: Police surprised by Euro 2020 final security breach at Wembley

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