Belfast Telegraph

Yob fans embarrassing England, says Southgate


Flashpoint: England supporters clash with police in Portugal
Flashpoint: England supporters clash with police in Portugal
England manager Gareth Southgate

By Simon Peach

England manager Gareth Southgate disassociated himself, the team and right-minded fans from the group of yobs that have been an "embarrassment" to the country in recent days.

The build-up to Thursday's Nations League semi-final against Holland was dominated by fan behaviour after two nights of disruption in Porto and some unseemly behaviour in Guimaraes.

The Football Association is liaising with the UK Football Policing Unit after trouble flared up in Porto on Tuesday and Wednesday, with the governing body saying those causing issues were an "embarrassment".

Southgate used the same word to describe the group of troublemakers after Portugal bore witness to this latest reprehensible chapter.

"I haven't seen it, but I'm aware of it," the England manager said after his side's 3-1 extra-time loss to the Dutch.

"The saddest thing for me is that we have thousands upon thousands of fans who come here and support us brilliantly and have the ability to enjoy themselves without causing offence to anybody else and without creating any problems.

"And then we have a group who are an embarrassment.

"As an Englishman, they're not supporters of the team. They reflect so poorly on us as a country and we don't associate ourselves with them at all."

That loutish behaviour means there is likely to be more attention on England's supporters than their side for the third-place play-off against Switzerland in Guimaraes tomorrow.

The FA and Southgate's condemnation echoed that of Deputy Chief Constable Mark Roberts, National Police Chiefs' Council football policing lead.

Asked if there was a doomsday scenario regarding shutting bars and other outlets selling alcohol in the coming days, he said: "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."

The FA recently 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.

The FA's message to England Supporters Travel Club members on their Facebook group warns 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."

Belfast Telegraph


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