The English Football Association has confirmed there was a breach in Wembley Stadium security in the buildup to Sunday’s Euro 2020 final between Italy and England, with a “small group” of people getting into the venue — some reportedly without tickets.
Videos circulated on social media of groups of supporters appearing to breach the outer perimeter barriers around Wembley around two hours before kickoff.
After first saying there was no breach, a Wembley Stadium spokesperson confirmed that indeed people had gained access to the ground: “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.”
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One video showed a cluster of fans running toward the main reception. London police said they had helped the security teams at the ground.
“Wembley security officials have confirmed there was no security breaches of people without tickets getting inside the stadium,” the Metropolitan police said on Twitter.
However, the initial FA statement came through at just before 6:30 p.m. BST (1:30 p.m. ET) in London, after which eyewitness reports suggested there were fans who had managed to breach security protocols and gained access. Unconfirmed reports suggested scuffles had broken out on the concourse and fans with legitimate tickets were arriving to find people already occupying their seats, triggering confrontations with stewards.
Some security staff were attacked, witnesses told Reuters, and entry to the stadium was halted for over 20 minutes while order was restored at the entrances.
Outside the ground, several thousand fans continued drinking and partying in the area immediately adjacent to the entry points, with empty beer cans lining the street.
Italy vs. England was overshadowed before the Euro 2020 final by fan trouble. Simon Stacpoole/Offside/Offside via Getty Images
Some witnesses said they saw isolated cases of fans running through the seating areas inside the ground being chased by security.
Inside the ground, there was a party atmosphere with fans singing “Sweet Caroline” and “Three Lions” — the unofficial anthem of the England team.
Police had previously urged supporters not to travel to Wembley if they did not have match tickets, and complained of multiple cases of flares being set off within the vicinity of railway stations in London.
The 90,000-seat Wembley had been set for a pandemic-restricted capacity of about 67,000 before the match.
Thousands of fans gathered on Wembley Way at least eight hours before the 8 p.m. BST start in scenes replicated throughout London.
There were reports of queues forming outside pubs as early as 6 a.m. BST, while many of the city’s tourist areas, including Leicester Square, were filled with supporters all day.
Wembley will hold a maximum of 65,000 people for Sunday’s final. The television audience in England is expected to surpass 30 million — more than half of the country’s population.