In Focus

Wembley Euro 2020 final disorder ‘seals the deal’ for 2030 World Cup bid hopes

England handed one-match stadium ban and an £84,560 fine by Uefa

European football’s governing body Uefa has punished England and the Football Association for the scenes inside and outside Wembley Stadium at the Euro 2020 final.  

England have been ordered to play one match behind closed doors, with a second game suspended for two years, for the “lack of order and discipline inside and around the stadium”. The one-match ban in question applies only to Uefa competitions, not World Cup qualifiers, and will be in place for England’s next Uefa Nations League game in June 2022.

When the Three Lions faced Italy in the Euro final on 11 July there were “serious disturbances” at Wembley as ticketless fans “fought with stewards and police officers and forced their way into the stadium”, Sky Sports said. 

The FA was also fined €100,000 (£84,560) for the “invasion of the field of play, for throwing of objects and for the disturbances during the national anthems”. The ban is the first time the FA has received a punishment that has resulted in England having to play a home match behind closed doors, the BBC reported.

Even before Wembley was stormed by hundreds of ticketless fans “the approach to the stadium resembled a war zone”, The Guardian said. An Italian fan described walking along Wembley Way as “one of the worst experiences of the night” and it “looked like a battleground: trash everywhere, trees being pulled and England fans forcing their way up stairs to the stadium and causing crushes”. The Metropolitan Police made 51 arrests connected to the final, with 26 of those made at Wembley.

In response to the ruling, an FA spokesperson said “although we are disappointed with the verdict, we acknowledge the outcome of this Uefa decision”.

The final finished 1-1 after extra time but England suffered heartbreak as the Italians triumphed in the shoot-out, winning 3-2 on penalties. 

‘A dreadful experience’

Regardless of the result on 11 July, the country should have been celebrating Gareth Southgate’s side reaching a major final for the first time in 55 years and England hosting its biggest sporting event since that day in 1966. However, the aftermath of the final was overshadowed by online racial abuse of England trio Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka, who missed penalties, and the behaviour of fans before, and after, the match.

Phil McNulty, BBC Sport’s chief football writer, described the scenes at Wembley as “disorganised, shameful shambles” and said the FA was “never going to escape punishment”. He added: “It was a dreadful experience and it was inevitable that the FA would pay a price.” 

This is a “disgraceful and shameful incident” for English football, said The Telegraph’s Jason Burt. “The world was watching and this is what they saw,” he added. “It was humiliating for English football, for England as a country, which so often attempts to take the moral high ground over other nations and then appears surprised when it is not popular.”

Wembley chaos ends bid hopes

The ugly scenes at Wembley raised “serious questions” about the English FA’s ability to host the Fifa World Cup in 2030, which it is considering bidding for with the other Home Nations and Ireland, Sky Sports reported. July’s final was seen by many as an “audition” for the World Cup, but it was an audition that Britain failed, the London Evening Standard said at the time.

Julian Knight MP, chair of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) select committee, believes England shouldn’t waste any time or money trying to host the 2030 World Cup and that the FA should count themselves lucky the sanction was not more severe.

“I didn’t have hopes for our World Cup bid due to, frankly, our poor standing in the world game in terms of our reputation and our relationships with governing bodies, and this dates right back to the shambles that was the previous World Cup bid,” Knight said in an interview with talkSPORT’s Jim White. “I think this seals the deal on that. I think it’s the icing on the cake as far as the perceptions of ourselves as having difficulties, having problems.”

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