Ros Atkins on… the trouble at Wembley
Ticketless fans were "like a line of 6,000 zombies trying to get in". One person "hijacked a disabled child's wheelchair" to try to trick their way in.
A full report into the mass disorder at the Euro 2020 final between England and Italy at Wembley has laid bare the horrific scenes faced by legitimate supporters, staff, stewards and police.
There was rife drunkenness and drug-taking, police dogs being kicked and officers attacked, bodies "flung to the floor" and players' families "scared for their lives" – as 2,000 people without tickets managed to get into the stadium, causing what has been described as a "national day of shame" which could have caused deaths.
Here is a full timeline of events from 11 July 2021, supported by the accounts of people who were there as told to the review conducted by Baroness Casey.
- Euro 2020 final disorder: Ticketless thugs 'could have caused death' at England v Italy game hampered by 'collective failure'
Fans start to arrive at Wembley, 12 hours before kick-off, for the Euro 2020 final between England and Italy. It is the home side's first major tournament final since winning the 1966 World Cup – a gap of 55 years.
A Brent Council official reports fans without tickets are queuing at pubs close to the stadium. A WhatsApp message to council colleagues, FA and Wembley managers, the police and other local partners reads: "Talking to fans…none with tickets, just here for the occasion. Might be a big feature of the day."
A colleague in Brent Council's licensing team replies to say pubs had notified them fans without tickets had reserved seats for the game. She says: "Expectation therefore is that our streets will be full of street drinking particularly with people not attending the game as most just want to come for the atmosphere."
Crowds, consuming alcohol, start to gather outside the stadium. The level of drunkenness is noted by a London Underground official: "I've been doing this for over a decade and have worked on various other celebratory events, including New Year's Eve. I have never seen drunkenness like this so early on in the day."
Testimony later suggests copious amounts of drugs, particularly cocaine, were also being taken. The report said that 47% of 7,000 ticket holders who took part in the review saw illegal drug taking when arriving at Wembley.
In addition steward and security staff believe there was a high level of drug use. One Sports Ground Safety Authority official said: "Drug usage was noticeable. It took four or five stewards to try and hold someone down – more than the number it usually takes when fans are drunk."
Met Police Service (MPS) Silver Commander requests officers be sent to the stadium ahead of main deployment.
The police are subjected to violence throughout the day with one Wembley external safety manager claiming: "One 'fan' just punched a policeman out of nowhere, no build up to the incident, just walked up and punched him…never seen anything like that."
Crowds gather at the Olympic steps – the main set of steps leading up to the stadium from Olympic Way (also known as Wembley Way).
Fans stop a bus on Fulton Road in Wembley, close to the stadium, and climb on the roof. This is the first "red flag" for officials on the ground with someone from Brent Council saying "the people on the bus was the first indication to us that things weren't in the right place… the first red flag was people on the bus and Fulton Road…that was the trigger for me".
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Officers requested at 11.30am arrive and rescue the stranded bus.
MPS Match Commander briefing starts at Brent Civic Centre by the stadium as flares are set off and fans scale nearby traffic lights.
The actions increase concerns for those working at the final.
An FA/Wembley official said: "For me the flares caused a real concern. I remember someone standing on a concrete wall with a red flare. That was unusual. It is rare to get a pyro at Wembley, it usually happens more in Europe."
And someone from Brent Council added: "It was like a medieval football match. Stuff was getting chucked in the air – it was dangerous. People were climbing the trees and climbing traffic lights. Things had buckled."
British Transport Police deploy officers from central London to Wembley.
FA asks MPS when more officers will arrive and they are told it will be 15:00.
MPS deploys 175 officers at Wembley 30 minutes earlier than planned. Fireworks, smoke bombs and glass bottles are thrown on Olympic Way – the road that links Wembley Park Underground station to the stadium.
Olympic Way was busier than usual several hours before kick-off
A further 50 public order officers arrive, alongside 100 specialist public officers from the MPS Territorial Support Group. It is deemed too unsafe to deploy volunteers, and council workers are also withdrawn for their own safety.
A ticket holder arriving at Wembley said: "It was like a war zone, never seen anything like it. Vandalism, yob behaviour, broken glass, glass being thrown, highly drunk people, very horrible atmosphere for a lone female. Police barely seen."
Another added: "I witnessed bottles and cans being thrown at people, children cowering behind parents to hide, trees being ripped up and thrown, climbing on roofs and throwing things into the crowds."
Crowd attempts to kick down barriers at Bobby Moore Bridge before police arrive.
MPS puts out a message on Twitter advising against travel to Wembley without a ticket. By late afternoon around 3,000 people are arriving every 15 minutes via Wembley Park Underground station.
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The stadium opens the Outer Security Perimeter (OSP) entrances as planned. The MPS says there is "a worry large numbers of unticketed fans will try to push onto the concourse" and "contingency plans were now a priority".
A Wembley external security manager is worried the OSP will not hold but is told it will be fine.
He said: "Our biggest concern was the OSP fence. We reported it…we were told [by Wembley officials] it would hold and we would be backed up by the police and they would make it work."
The Safety Officer activates doors/gates for entry and at 17:00 the council and police licensing team withdraw for their own safety.
An anonymous England fan, who has been following the team at home and away since 1969, said: "[I had] an uncomfortable feeling of unease that I have not ever experienced before as disorder and violence seemed inevitable."
Stewards detain the first person for tailgating (at Gate A) – where one fan closely follows another to gain entry together under one ticket.
A crowd breaches the top of the Spanish steps which connects the stadium to the SSE Arena. The Safety Officer locks all turnstiles and evidence in the Casey report says officials are caught off guard.
One said: "No one was ready for what came. But at the time, it wasn't like they weren't jumping over beforehand. It was when they saw people go in, then they started jumping."
And things escalate with a Wembley level one manager with armed forces experience saying "it was scary, even for me. This was not a usual 'loutish' crowd…I have enough experience to spot those". And another level one manager said: "It was hand-to-hand combat, groups of 40-50 men at a time."
MPS sends more reserves to Wembley bringing the total to 553 officers.
Officers were deployed to deal with crowds
A crowd becomes violent outside the Co-op on Olympic Way.8 It was running out of beer at around 16:00 but closes after a police officer is hit in the head by a bottle and a crowd tries to smash the shop windows.
After deploying response teams as reinforcements, the Safety Officer unlocks turnstiles because of increasing crowd density on the outer concourse.
The Safety Officer temporarily drops Covid-19 lateral flow checks to ease crowd density. They are reinstated at 18.41. Figures later show that on Euro Sunday there was an unprecedented spike of Covid-19 in the stadium and wider area. Test and Trace data found that 2,295 people who attended the game were likely to have been infectious and a further 3,404 people potentially caught coronavirus at, or travelling to/from the game.
A crowd knocks down the fence line and breaches Club Wembley's outer security perimeter.
A crowd attempts to breach Gate M disabled pass gate. Police and stewards repel most of those involved.
Around 70 people breach Gate K disabled pass gate, when staff use it to eject a tailgater.
Several disabled gates were used to try and breach the stadium with many children affected by the incidents.
Testimony gathered from Level Playing Field said one fan impersonated a steward: "He's taken [son's] wheelchair and pushed it towards the door…Just as we got to the door we twigged what was going on and it turned out he's just an England fan in a high-viz jacket that was literally hijacking a wheelchair to get into the stadium."
A crowd breaches Turnstile/Gate G and 200 people breach Gate H – a disabled pass gate.
Around 90 people breach Gate H emergency fire door after a fan opens it from inside – and this is repeated at 19.41. A crowd breaches Pass Gate C after security open the gate.
Stadium staff open Gate D disabled pass gate to eject tailgaters. Crowd attempts to breach the gate for the first time. Twenty people gain entry to the inner door but are held back by police and stewards. This is repeated a further five times at 18.56, 19.00, 19.15, 19.44 and 19.46.
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Police deploy officers to all turnstiles at the request of Safety Officer.
Safety Office increases the power on emergency fire door magnet locks from 25% (the usual setting) to 100%.
Crowd breaches Gate C disabled pass gate and 70 people gain entry to the inner areas. Crowd breaches Gate G fire doors by forcing them open from the outside.
Then 350 people gain entry into the inner stadium areas. This is repeated at 19.06. Safety Officer increases power on magnetic fire door locks to 100%. This is repeated at 19.10.
Some of the families of England players had seats at Gate G and they have detailed the experience of fans charging the stadium. A father of one player said: "There was a wave of bodies just flung to the floor, including a young lad in a wheelchair – it was terrifying, disgraceful."
And a partner of another England star added: "All of a sudden there was a rush from behind, people trying to get through. Another person just pulled me out and asked me to get behind him in the queue. I was with my son and we were in bits, I was scared for my life."
Stadium staff open Gate B disabled pass gate to eject more tailgaters.
Crowd attempts to breach the gate and 20 people gain entry to the inner door but are held back by police and stewards.
Police deploy officers to the bottom of the Olympic Steps after crowd collapses fence.
Gate H is opened again and 100 people enter the stadium in 30 seconds. People can be seen being forced to the floor and being trampled. Officials that witness the incidents say the police presence had little impact.
An external safety manager said: "We needed a PSU [Police Support Unit] at every turnstile but even that might not have held."
Another added: "I'm not sure 10 more police units would have worked." An FA/Wembley official said: "It's the first time I've seen someone run at and kick the [police] dogs."
Crowd charges Olympic Steps OSP as England national anthem is played.
Two Police Support Units 'fast walk' with batons to drive back crowd on Olympic Steps.
The Euro 2020 final kicks off and the crowd's mood outside the stadium worsens. A London Ambulance Service crew member said: "Once the game started, and people realise, actually 'I've got to watch this game' it was just a bit more of an edge to it."
Behaviour inside the stadium is also scary for those who had purchased tickets. A survey respondent said: "People were taking cocaine in front of us and smoking drugs behind us. My sons cried for most of the game, scared by the events surrounding us."
Luke Shaw scores for England after just two minutes – and crowds charge outer gate at the South West Ramp.
Repairs are required on the large emergency exit doors at Turnstile G following a breach.
Police warn tactical partners that groups are circling Wembley looking for weaknesses and the council noted "a huge group standing off with police at the top of the [Olympic] steps".
Crowd pushes over temporary signage structure by Olympic Steps, briefly trapping two people.
The Metropolitan Police made 51 arrests connected to the final
Extra time begins and fans are still trying to find entry points.
An FA/Wembley official said of the scene: "It was constant for six hours – even in extra time, there were people standing like zombies on the line, trying to get in.
A message from the police helicopter estimates there are 6,000 people outside. It said: "They were just standing there, not even watching the game on their phones."
Crowd breaches Gate G fire doors for the third time by forcing the unmanned external door open from the outside. 30 people gain entry into the inner stadium areas.
Officials in the stadium describe wanting Italy to win the match because of the fear they feel at what the fans may do if England are victorious.
A Greater London Authority official said: "I wanted Italy to win under penalties. I was begging for the scenario that unfolded because there was pressure building and building and building and I was just, 'If they win, that charge is uncontrollable'."
And a London Emergency Services Official said if Gareth Southgate's England had won: "It would have been horrific. And we'd have had to have declared a major incident, both central London and Wembley, I can guarantee that we would have been on our knees."
Safety Officer opens doors for to allow fans to leave the stadium.
Italy beat England on penalties to win Euro 2020
Fans push over portable toilets outside of the stadium on Olympic Way.
A Brent Council Councillor replies to a picture on WhatsApp of the mess left behind, writing: "Bloody hell what have people done."
Main exit of supporters completed.
On the way home Italian fans are abused by English supporters. A survey respondent said: "Italian supporters were subjected to racist abuse on the way to the stadium and away from it."
A Chiltern rail official added: On the train, we had staff intervene to protect Italian fans from being abused. One family of three generations, grandparent and grandchild were shouted at by England fans on the way in."
The clean up operation of 31 tonnes of rubbish – 10 times the normal matchday amount and including broken trees, urine and faeces – takes five days with many staff saying they never want to do it again.