Groups of England fans without tickets forced their way through the Wembley turnstiles before the Euro 2020 final against Italy, multiple witnesses have told the Guardian.
Supporters breached security barriers outside the stadium and squeezed behind ticket-holders or burst through the electronic gates that allow entry to the concourses and seats. Witnesses said the numbers may have been in the hundreds. There were unconfirmed reports that hundreds of fans charged a disabled entrance door when it opened.
The Guardian has been told that one supporter was left stuck outside after he scanned his ticket and two fans without one pushed through the turnstile ahead of him. Other ticketless fans were seen trying to persuade supporters with tickets to allow them to squeeze in. Stewards were seen failing to prevent fans from forcing their way through a turnstile.
About two hours before kick-off hundreds of fans were filmed breaching a gate and running up steps towards the stadium. Stewards and police sought to hold back supporters as they pushed through barriers.
A Wembley Stadium spokesperson said “safety measures were quickly activated in the relevant areas there were no security breaches of people without tickets getting inside the stadium” but a later statement was issued which acknowledged this was not the case.
The statement said: “There was a breach of security and a small group of people got into the stadium. We are now working closely with stadium stewards and security to remove these people. Anyone inside the stadium without a ticket will be instantly ejected.”
One fan said, though, that two stewards at the entrance to their block did not check their ticket and that others strolled past unchallenged.
Uefa had also earlier said there had been no access to the stadium. A witness reported that fans were fighting over seats and that some supporters without tickets had ended up in the area that houses the players’ families. Fans reported that some people were watching from the concourse.
A Metropolitan police spokesperson said: “There was a breach of security at Wembley Stadium, which resulted in a small number of people getting into the stadium without a ticket. Officers worked closely with security officials to prevent any further breaches. We will also support action by Wembley Stadium officials to identify those without tickets and eject them.”
Reports from around Wembley suggest the stadium was “locked down” after fans without match tickets breached the security barrier and “stormed on to [the] concourse”. Police officers on horseback were deployed to control the crowds as security staff tried to reassemble fences around the stadium.
Fans have also descended on central London in huge numbers before the final, the first at a major tournament for the England men’s team since the 1966 World Cup. In Leicester Square, bottles and other objects were thrown.
The Metropolitan police tweeted: “Unless you have a ticket for tonight’s #ENG vs #ITA match, please do not travel to #Wembley. Wembley area is extremely busy. The match is sold out, there are no more tickets available.”
The FA may face further censure from Uefa after the Italian national anthem was booed by a section of supporters. The pre-match rendition of Il Canto degli Italiani was greeted with jeers despite entreaties from several public figures, Gareth Southgate and Boris Johnson among them, for fans to treat the anthem with respect. It continues a pattern that emerged during earlier England games in the tournament and has already contributed to a punishment from European football’s governing body.
On Saturday the FA was fined €30,000 (£25,630) by Uefa for the behaviour of some England fans in the semi-final against Denmark. A laser pointer was shone at Kasper Schmeichel, the Denmark goalkeeper, before Harry Kane took the penalty that led to England’s winning goal, and the sanction also took in disturbances during the anthems and the setting-off of fireworks in the stands.
Uefa’s control, ethics and disciplinary may look dimly at a repeat performance of the behaviour during the anthems on Sunday, although it remains to be seen whether the FA will be charged.