England fans clash with police in Portugal during Nations League match screening
Portuguese families watching a match on a big screen were forced to flee with their crying children.
England football fans have been condemned after clashing with police in Portugal.
Eyewitnesses said some fans started hurling bottles, prompting Portuguese families watching a match on a big screen to flee with their crying children as the hooligans chanted ‘England ‘til I die’.
One fan said it was “embarrassing to be English” after the trouble in Porto while a UK police chief described the behaviour as “completely unacceptable”.
Video on social media showed police with batons and riot shields chasing supporters as a Portugal v Switzerland game was screened in a fan zone in the centre of Porto on Wednesday night.
Fans wearing England shirts and chanting England songs started throwing drinks and bottles when Portugal scored.
Disappointed to see England fans throwing bottles tonight in Porto in the Fan Zone. It's hardly a surprise that the police then clamped down. Strong message to anyone thinking of similar at tomorrow's game #NationsLeague pic.twitter.com/sazPtNpLz6— Matt Brown (@_MattBrown) June 5, 2019
In the footage, several objects can be seen flying through the air in the direction of the police, who then charged towards the fans.
Some of those watching cheered and filmed the confrontation on their phones.
England are due to play the Netherlands on Thursday in the Nations League semi-final, 35 miles away from Porto in Guimaraes.
Will Burns, from Wimbledon, said he felt embarrassed to be English after watching the trouble.
The 37-year-old England fan said: “Lots of Portuguese families watching the game in the fan zone, Portugal scored and then England fans started throwing drinks followed by bottles.
“Only one policeman was there. Then all the Portuguese families started running away, carrying their crying children. While England fans sang ‘England ‘til I die’.
“Embarrassing to be English.”
Matt Brown said he saw three police guards in a stand-off with a group of England fans.
The 26-year-old from Cardiff said: “The bottles were flying and glass was obviously smashing on the floor. They weren’t being thrown with any precision.”
He said he believed many fans had been peacefully watching the game and were taken by surprise when police reinforcements arrived and ran towards the crowd.
Asked if he felt the police response was proportionate, he said: “I don’t think it would happen back home, but given that bottles were being thrown at police officers and that obviously is a risk to life, they had a right to charge, whether they went about that indiscriminately I think is probably the nub of the issue there.”
Another England fan, who did not want to be named, said: “A couple of bystanders were injured, including an old man who had a heavy cut to his forehead.
“Police responded aggressively, but they were definitely reacting to being targeted by projectiles.”
Only last week senior footballers were warning fans to behave themselves abroad as the Football Association released its “Don’t Be That Idiot” campaign ahead of the competition.
You wouldn't normally do this. So what makes football different? pic.twitter.com/VmkJXj50eU— The FA (@FA) May 30, 2019
Deputy Chief Constable Mark Roberts, the National Police Chiefs’ Council football policing lead, said: “Earlier this evening Portuguese police deployed riot officers against a group of England fans in the main square area of Porto.
“It is believed the fans had been throwing bottles at Portugal fans who were watching the match in the same area.
“This is the second evening in a row where disorder has occurred in Porto. Last night there were issues outside a bar, where bottles were thrown and minor damage was caused. It is completely unacceptable.”
He added: “The behaviour of a small number of the England fans out here continues to tarnish the reputation of the genuine fans who are simply trying to enjoy the football.”