Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 30 August 2014

Some fans won't wear England shirts

Around 4,000 England fans are expected at the game against Ukraine

A number of England football fans will not wear their replica shirts as Roy Hodgson's side play Ukraine amid concerns about violence.

There will be an intense atmosphere in Donetsk as the Euro 2012 co-hosts require a victory to reach the quarter-finals, whereas a draw is good enough for England to progress.

The head of the British police contingent at the tournament will meet his Ukrainian counterparts as efforts to ensure fans' safety increase.

Around 4,000 England supporters are expected to attend the game, and there was a cautious mood at the Golden Lion pub where the Three Lions fans are based in the industrial city.

Tony Hixon, 48, from Southampton, is one fan not displaying the England colours at the match.

"There's an unusual nerve about this game," he said. "We don't know too much about the Ukrainians so we're just wondering what is going to happen. Is there going to be trouble kicking off if we knock them out? I don't know but that is the feeling."

He is not wearing his England shirt because he is travelling alone and wants to "slip into the crowd" after the game for safety, he said.

Warren Panter, 44, from Northampton but now working in Gibraltar, will also be in neutral colours. He said: "You don't know what element of thugs are around the corner. They could be preparing for this game."

Assistant Chief Constable Andy Holt, of the Association of Chief Police Officers which is leading the 18 British officers in Ukraine, said he has prepared for the possibility of the match being an intense affair.

"We always knew that if England end up in the last game of the group stage playing Ukraine and both need something out of the game, it would be a very tense atmosphere," he said. "This will be the most challenging operation in Ukraine thus far and we'll be working really hard with our Ukrainian colleagues to do all we can to make sure that England supporters are safe and appropriately policed."

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