The streets of London descended into anarchy last night, with England and Italy football fans clashing in Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square and setting off fireworks as riot police struggled to break up the restless crowds after the Three Lions’ crushing Euros defeat at Wembley.
Shocking video shows rowdy supporters draped in the flags of England and Italy shoving each other in the capital’s West End before a mass brawl erupted following the Three Lions’ loss to Roberto Mancini’s squad in England’s biggest match for more than half a century.
Armies of riot police appeared to struggle to contain the mayhem, with footage captured by passersby and shared on social media showing out-of-control fans clambering onto street lamps, setting off flares, and pushing into the official fan zone in Trafalgar Square without tickets.
Scotland Yard said they made 49 arrests while policing the Euros final and have launched an urgent probe to find the ticketless football fans who stormed through Wembley Stadium’s security barriers and entered the grounds just moments before England’s game against Italy.
The force tweeted: ‘Our policing operation for the #Euro2020 final is drawing to a close. Thank you to the tens of thousands of fans who had good spirits and behaved responsibly. We made 49 arrests during the day for a variety of offences. We will have officers on hand throughout the night. Frustratingly, 19 of our officers were injured while they confronted volatile crowds. This is wholly unacceptable.’
Footage from inside Wembley showed what was reported to be an Italian fan punched to the ground and kicked by Three Lions supporters who burst onto the concourse. Other fans at the scene said the victim was English, and that the intruders were lashing out at anyone they could hit.
The Met were even forced to issue a statement denying rumours spread on social media that up to 12 people had been stabbed in East London. The force’s Barking and Dagenham Police team said on Twitter there had been an incident at around 6.30pm, but that there had been no injuries.
Last night hundreds of boozed-up and grief-stricken England fans stood near the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square as riot police tried to disperse the restless crowds. The actions of a minority cast a shadow over the event as dozens of ticketless fans stormed the stadium before kick-off and injured 19 police covering it, while England’s trio of penalty-missers suffered racist abuse after the game.
The Duke of Cambridge has said he is ‘sickened’ by the racist abuse of England football players on social media, saying: ‘It is totally unacceptable that players have to endure this abhorrent behaviour. It must stop now and all those involved should be held accountable.’