Sports

Inside the ‘storming of Wembley’ as steward threatened with knife, woman sexually assaulted and children left in tears

A first hand account of the so-called ‘storming of Wembley’ has revealed the shocking scenes from inside the stadium.

A steward was threatened with a knife, a woman was seriously sexually assaulted and a tearful schoolboy was traumatised as some supporters forced their way through security on the way into Wembley Stadium ahead of the Euro 2020 final between England and Italy.

There are now concerns that the scenes could damage the UK and Ireland’s chances of hosting the 2030 World Cup.

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Fans described how “several hundred” people had “poured in” to Wembley without tickets before the game on Sunday.

The Mirror’s chief reporter Andy Lines “watched in horror” as the carnage unfolded at Gate F and Gate G before the game.

He said: “I spoke to a distraught young steward who said a ticketless England fan pulled a knife on him.

He told me: “The man said ‘you ARE going to let me in’.

“‘What was I going to do? I earn £8.90 an hour – I’m not getting stabbed for that.’”



Video footage shows people forcing entry into Wembley Stadium


Scenes of chaos at Wembley Stadium as fans try to storm past stewards to gain entrance to the ground ahead of Euro 2020 final between Italy and England

He said that one woman, who was wearing a skirt, alleged she had been subjected to a very serious sexual assault in the crush outside as a man threatened her and tailgated her to get through the turnstiles.

He also described a young lad, perhaps 11 or 12, who was “clearly traumatised”

Adding: “His Sikh dad was consoling him but the boy was just begging to be taken home.

“I took some time with him to try and reassure him that most England fans were decent. His dad didn’t know whether to stay or just turn around and go home.”

Security at the match was organised by UEFA in conjunction with the FA and the Metropolitan Police.

Fil Sollof has been with the England Fans Travel Club for over 20 years.

The 56-year-old company director from Loughton, Essex told The Mirror reporter: “I have travelled to all corners of the globe to watch England and I have never seen anything like Sunday night.

“It’s a total disgrace that makes me so embarrassed to be an England fan.

“The total night was completely un-policed and the stewards couldn’t cope.

“Any hopes of us getting the 2030 World Cup have ended.”



Police officers observe England fans letting off flares in Trafalgar Square




He explained that there is usually an outer ring and then an inner ring at any international games he usually goes to.

But the system on Sunday completely failed.

Andy said: “I was already inside and was alerted when people started running through the concourse followed by chasing stewards.

“I watched the chaotic scenes unfold and – because I was wearing a lanyard – many distraught fans coming through thought I was working for Wembley.

“They begged me for help.

“One said: ‘Why don’t you f***ing do something? Someone is going to die out there.’”

He said they were calling for police to be brought in to stop the frightening crush outside, and described how there were many fights breaking out – in the main it was England fans with tickets, who had got in early, angrily attacking those getting in illegally.

Videos posted online showed some of these shocking incidents with the students being overwhelmed and terrified.

Some were used as a human barricade to stop even more fans getting in, but other ticketless fans came through the disabled entrances.

And some others waited until a fan inside was held and ejected and then rushed through the open door.

Andy said: “I watched in astonishment as a dad and his young son, perhaps ten, broke in. They were caught, stopped and held as they tried to melt into the crowds.

“But as they were about to be thrown out he shouted “run” and, holding his lad’s hand, they sprinted into the concourse and disappeared into the mass of fans.

“I saw that sort of scenario happen on perhaps 15/20 occasions.”

Former Liverpool star Dominic Matteo, who was affected, tweeted: “The entry process was shambolic. I didn’t even stay to watch the game as the atmosphere was so hostile at many different points of entry, with children present being pushed to the ground scared and crying.”

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Elliott Hind, 33, from Milton Keynes, Bucks, said: “That’s probably the worst match day experience of my life out of hundreds I’ve been to and I was at Marseille in 2016.”

Daily Mirror Travel Editor Nigel Thompson at Gate G said: “A mob of young men arrived at about 6.45pm and it turned ugly and scary very quickly.

“Yobs were leaping into the queue ahead of me and trying to tailgate fans with tickets going through the turnstiles.

“I saw a melee at the disabled access point; one door was kicked open and dozens of men ran through. It could have been 100, they just poured in.

“I saw families with young kids in tears – it was really nasty and menacing.

“I was really shocked by the lack of security for such a showpiece event.’’

FA chief executive Mark Bullingham has launched an inquiry.

He said: “There were a large number of drunken yobs trying to force their way in, we run a stadium not a fortress.”

England World Cup hero Sir Geoff Hurst said the scenes were disgraceful and could harm England’s chances of hosting the 2030 World Cup unless lessons were learnt.

He said: “If we hold the world cup here then measures will have to be taken to ensure that this doesn’t happen again.

The Prime Minister’s spokesman said: “Those scenes were unacceptable and we condemn violence, antisocial behaviour and abuse in the strongest possible terms.

“As with all major policing operations there will be lessons to be learned.”

Broadcaster John Duggan tweeted: “You can forget about the 2030 World Cup bid. Disgraceful.”

Police arrested 49 people in the aftermath of the game as 19 officers were injured in and around Wembley Stadium.

Asked at Monday’s Downing Street press conference if hooligans who stormed Wembley could derail the joint UK and Ireland bid to host the 2030 World Cup, the Prime Minister said: “Obviously I think the UK does have a very good case, together with Ireland, and we will be making that case.

“I think it was a shame that a small minority yesterday tried to spoil it or behave badly.

“I don’t think that they damaged the atmosphere, certainly not in the stadium itself.

“But we will be looking at exactly what happened.

“I think there were particular difficulties in policing and enforcing an event in the context of the ( coronavirus ) testing and social distancing rules.”

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