'It was easy for them': Fan's shock at Wembley Stadium break-in
Adam Shaw, local democracy reporter
- Credit: PA
An England fan has told how ticketless supporters stormed disabled gates at Wembley on Sunday, forcing their way into the Euro 2020 final.
Steve Hannigan described the chaotic scenes outside the ground and said it was clear thousands of extra people were trying to ‘jib’ into the stadium.
The 65-year-old explained how people bypassed “shocking” security measures – easily slipping past stewards at the Covid-19 test checkpoint to gain access to the outer concourse – before looking for a weak spot to breach.
Steve described the disabled entrance at Gate H as a serious ‘weak spot’ as hordes of fans seized the opportunity to get inside when the doors opened to allow single a wheelchair user through.
Steve said: “People had got up the steps and on to the concourse very easily. There were queues of about 20 to 30 yards, much more than at the semi-final [vs Denmark] and it didn’t take long for people to start getting restless.
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"Just to the left of me they opened a disabled door to let a wheelchair in and, bang, that was it – people just rushed at it, hundreds must have got in.”
He explained it was as if people were waiting for this specific moment and, after it proved a successful route in, was tried again a few minutes later.
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“There was hardly anybody there guarding this entrance so the same thing happened when the door opened again,” he added.
“It’s mad – you do it once and it goes wrong and then you do it again. This time you saw people with tickets running in because they were worried they never would otherwise.”
Steve was critical of the whole safety and security operation at the event, describing it as “a shambles”.
He spoke of how body searches were virtually non-existent and how tickets were barely checked – when the crowds built up, he said a passing police officer described the situation as “a bit of a disaster”.
He also overheard people talking on the Tube about getting in without a ticket, while rumours circulated of a “going rate” of £200 to bribe stewards.
A seasoned follower of England at home and abroad, Steve, originally from the Wirrall, said the whole event was incomparable to what he has witnessed in other countries.
“There needs to be a proper cordon that stops people getting through – I went to a few games in Lille at Euro 2016 and as soon as you got off the train there were clear paths and barriers, you wouldn’t even get near the ground without a ticket,” he said.
Steve eventually made it inside the stadium through the turnstiles and, having turfed out someone who tried to sit in his allocated seat, was just about in place to see Luke Shaw put England ahead after two minutes.
But he said the events outside the ground had “spoiled” things somewhat, as he had missed the build-up and national anthems and “wasn’t really settled”.
He added the ground was “almost full” and estimated there were at least 80,000 fans inside when capacity had officially been limited to 60,000.
UEFA, the Football Association and the Metropolitan Police have all said there will be inquiries into what happened on July 11, with the stadium’s safety advisory group set to meet on Tuesday (July 20).
Brent councillors have pushed for the council to launch its own inquiry to ensure similar scenes, particularly those in and around Olympic Way, known as Wembley Way, do not happen again.
On July 14, the Met defended its approach throughout the final and said its actions were key in preventing any serious escalation.
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Jane Connors said: “I do not accept that the policing operation failed and I stand by the difficult decisions made by police officers and the Met’s public order commanders.
“Without their immediate intervention, it is possible that this game could have been abandoned.”