Gareth Southgate on Jarrod Bowen's England call up
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The Football Association fear violence and bad behaviour could mar England’s trip to Germany on June 7 as England fans head into a perfect storm. Host city Munich is the beer capital of Europe and has the sort of central square which encourages supporters to congregate.
Add to that a late 8.45pm kick-off, a history of confrontations between the two factions and the fact the eve of the game falls on the anniversary of D-Day, and there are understandable fears that the trip could end in disaster.
Gareth Southgate has already expressed his embarrassment about bad behaviour of fans in the past and strong messages are planned when the ballot process finally finishes on Friday. And the main concern is the recognition that UEFA will be keeping a close eye on things as England have the threat of a suspended one-match behind-closed-doors game as part of the punishment for behaviour at the Euro 2020 final.
The German authorities are working closely with British police and stewards and alcohol will be banned completely at the Allianz Arena itself. However, there will be less control in the city centre itself. That’s where England fans will be travelling to gather en masse for the first time since they played the Czech Republic in Prague in 2019. In total, 3,466 tickets will be made available to England Supporters’ Club members although with 6,000 expressing interest there are concerns that fans may travel without tickets.
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Moreover, banning orders are artificially low due to the recent lockdown. It is expected 880 passports will be handed in ahead of the trip, which is a fraction of the 3,000 fans who were prevented from travelling to the 2006 World Cup, for example. The FA admit that even those arrested after recent pitch invasions will be allowed to travel if they have not been sentenced and there is a sense that a “new generation” of unknown travelling fans will be making their first ever away trip with England due to the long break.
A dozen stewards and three senior FA security staff will travel to Munich to help liaise with the local authorities, who in the past have shown some understanding of handling English crowds. As ever, though, alcohol abuse remains a huge concern, although increasingly police will be on the look out for drug use as an aggravating factor for poor behaviour.
Southgate said this week on fan disorder: “Football’s got a responsibility but what happened here before our Euro 2020 final, that wasn’t just football supporters. That was people unable to behave, to control themselves, when consuming alcohol.
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“It’s a wider problem, a reflection of where we are as a country. It’s a difficult time for people. We are going to have more difficult times because of the economy. When it’s in our environment we have to do all we can to make sure it doesn’t happen.
“But we don’t want to go back to fences being put up. We don’t want to step back. What can we do? We can only call it out. Whenever we travel, we are hopefully ambassadors for our country and that should stand for something. We would not be happy if people came to our country and behaved in that way.
“I know that it is unrealistic to expect people to form into a big group and take that challenge on. But if smaller numbers of people and individuals start having those conversations and questioning why people are doing certain things, I think that is something that it is possible for all of us to have an impact on.”
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