England fans in Portugal condemned as ’embarrassing’ and ‘yobbish’ by FA and police
Supporters have caused trouble over the past two nights in Porto ahead of England’s Nations League semi-final clash with Holland.
The Football Association has called the fans involved in disturbances in Porto an “embarrassment” to the England team.
The condemnation has been echoed by the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) football policing lead who declared the loutish, stag-do minority are threatening to ruin the Nations League for everyone.
Instead of focusing on Thursday’s semi-final with Holland, the build-up is being dominated by fan behaviour after another night of disruption in Porto.
England supporters clashed with Portuguese police and were seen hurling bottles, prompting some local families watching the hosts’ match against Switzerland in a fan zone to flee with their crying children.
‘England ’til I die’ filled the air along with more unsavoury chants – just the latest embarrassing chapter when the Three Lions travel abroad, with trouble marring last year’s trips to Amsterdam and Seville.
An FA spokesperson said: “The FA strongly condemns the scenes witnessed in Porto overnight.
“Anyone responsible for these disturbances cannot be seen as true England supporters and are not welcome in football.
“They are an embarrassment to the team and the thousands of well-behaved fans who follow England in the right way.
“We are liaising with the UK Football Policing Unit.”
Those issues meant attention turned to Guimaraes on Thursday, with around 20,000 English fans expected at the 26,000-capacity Estadio D. Afonso Henriques.
Supporters were seen lugging crates of beer through the city centre at lunchtime as many locals watched on as the main square was taken over by flags and fans.
Although heavy rain may take the edge off proceedings in Guimaraes, there are fears of trouble over the coming days given England will not be in action again until Sunday.
Asked if there was a doomsday scenario regarding shutting bars and other outlets selling alcohol in the coming days, Deputy Chief Constable Mark Roberts, NPCC football policing lead, told Press Association Sport: “It is a matter for the local jurisdiction, they could always take that option.
“I think certainly back in the UK if we are having these sort of problems we shut bars and off-licences to try and reduce the risk of what people are causing.
“One thing I would say is that we have seen a number of incidents now where there is a big crowd and the majority of people in that crowd probably aren’t causing problems – but it is the hardcore in the middle who can’t behave themselves and drink.
“I would encourage England supporters, if you do find yourself in with a group of people like that to get away from them.
“One, because if you can isolate them they are less likely to behave badly but, equally, if the Portuguese police deploy their riot officers you don’t want to be caught up in it.
“So, get away from them, enjoy yourself, stay away from people who can’t behave and that will make it better for everyone.”
Last week the FA launched a video called ‘Don’t Be That Idiot’, highlighting the embarrassment unacceptable behaviour can cause – a call that appears to have fallen on deaf ears.
You wouldn't normally do this. So what makes football different? pic.twitter.com/VmkJXj50eU— The FA (@FA) May 30, 2019
Press Association Sport has seen the FA’s message to England Supporters Travel Club members on their Facebook group, warning they will “investigate incidences of inappropriate behaviour before, during or after” the game,
The governing body highlighted that the “overwhelming majority” are acting appropriately and following the Three Lions the “right way”, just as Deputy Chief Constable Roberts did.
“It is fairly depressing really,” he said.
“It is something we have become used to. I think we hoped after the Russia World Cup, where everything worked well in terms of fan behaviour, that we might have turned the corner.
“But we have seen a few games since then where we have seen this loutish, drunken behaviour return, and unfortunately now, we have had a couple of nights of it in Porto.
“It is a real shame because there are a lot of England fans here who will behave themselves but it is always this drunken minority who behave in a yobbish way who make the headlines.”
Roberts feels “a number of factors that always give us concerns” have combined to make the perfect storm on this occasion, and they include “the ready travel, the accessibility, people are familiar with Portugal, it is a holiday destination, relatively cheap”.
Roberts added: “Those are the sort of things we tend to see as the precursors for more of a boozy, stag-do crowd coming and causing these sorts of problems.
“You just look at some of the Portuguese locals who are walking past the scenes and they are shaking their heads wondering what is going on and you can understand the confusion it causes because other people seem to be able to come and watch football without behaving in that way.”