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Serbian hooligans targeting England’s Euro 2024 opener as police problems emerge | Football | Sport

Serbian hooligans targeting England's Euro 2024 opener as police problems emerge | Football | Sport

German police believe that up to 500 Serbian hooligans will attempt to spark violence ahead of their nation’s opening match of Euro 2024 against England.

It is estimated that 40,000 Three Lions supporters will be in attendance at the Veltins Arena on Sunday, home of Bundesliga 2 outfit Schalke, with a further 5,000 to 8,000 Serbians also travelling to the match to cheer their side on.

Following talks between police in Germany, Serbia and the United Kingdom, the UEFA have ruled that the fixture is a ‘high-risk’ match and appropriate measures are now being taken to attempt to avoid any trouble ahead of the match.

Peter Both, the chief of police in Gelsenkirchen, has told The Guardian that he is hoping that his team will be able to intercept the group of Serbian supporters before they are able to clash with England fans who have travelled to Germany for the tournament.

Both spoke of how he believes ‘up to 500 violence-seeking Serbians’ may travel to the match, but the ‘problem’ he is facing is that he has no concrete information on the size of the group of hooligans at this stage.

He explained: “I guess the biggest challenge for us will be to identify violent, disruptive groups at an early stage, to separate them from peaceful and law-abiding fans, that will be our biggest challenge.”

Over 1,000 German police officers will be on duty around the Veltins Arena on Sunday, with a riot unit also in attendance in case trouble does break out between the two groups of supporters.

Both revealed that he has had no issues in cooperating with UK authorities about potential issues, such as English fans travelling to Germany who have football banning orders, but the line of communication with Serbian police has not been as efficient.

He continued: “It’s not as good, like the cooperation with England, but it’s OK.”

The German police chief then confirmed that his officers would not respond to English supporters as the ‘stupid’ chant is not criminal. Both concluded: “We will approach all the English supporters with an open mind, and I expect all my colleagues to treat them fairly and proportionately, and we only will intervene in the event of any criminal or public safety incident.

“The chanting of Ten German Bombers is not criminal. It’s not forbidden in Germany. It’s stupid. It’s a stupid song. The English national coach said about that and he’s absolutely right. It’s ridiculous. It’s a stupid song, but it’s not forbidden.”

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