Bribes, forgeries and chat groups: Wembley storming explained

Author
NZ Herald ,
Publish Date
Wed, 14 Jul 2021, 12:20PM
(Photo / NZ Herald)
(Photo / NZ Herald)

Bribes, forgeries and chat groups: Wembley storming explained

Author
NZ Herald ,
Publish Date
Wed, 14 Jul 2021, 12:20PM

An England football fan has revealed how the storming of Wembley Stadium was planned, right down to carrying large amounts of cash to bribe officials.

Disgraceful scenes including clashes between ticket-holding and ticketless fans marred the Euro2020 final this week, when Italy beat England in a penalty shootout.

The English FA is investigating after the final was gatecrashed by fans at the London stadium, which was only three-quarters full because of Covid-19 restrictions.

Police admit they were caught out by what has been variously described as "carnage" and an "unprecedented level of public disorder".

The Guardian talked to a fan from the Midlands they called Pablo who said he was among a group of 300 that entered using a disabled visitors entrance.

He tried in vain to buy a ticket before deciding England's attempt to win a major trophy for the first time since 1966 was not to be missed.

"I just thought my dad is 52 and he's never seen England in a final at Wembley. And it might never happen again in my lifetime," he said.

Pablo had set up a chat group on social media which attracted about 200 ticketless fans, and was also a member of a slightly larger group. He knew of two similar groups including one with 800 members.

Scans of real tickets were uploaded allowing forgeries under different names to be made. These got Pablo and nine friends past the first security gate and social media kept them updated on the best places to get past further security.

He claimed bribes of between $40 and $240 were paid to stewards, with audio heard by the Guardian revealing that one guard suggested "put the money in my pocket as I'm patting you down."

Pablo said: "A lot of stewards seemed more than willing to help. We offered one $400 to let five of us in.

"Every time a disabled entrance was opened there must have been 300 people who got in. I would be shocked if there was less than 5000 who got in without a ticket."

Pablo - who took $500 in payoff money to the game - said the ticketless fans were not intimidated by stewards, and there were not enough police near the disabled entrances to deter gatecrashers.

"There were 30,000 spare seats and we didn't sit in anyone's seat," Pablo said.

"We found five empty seats. A family came and one of us was sat in their seat and they seemed a bit moody, but we just moved along one and no one else came.

"We didn't a harm anyone. The people causing the trouble were the ones fighting ticketless fans."

The FA will collaborate with police in its investigation.

"The security and stewarding numbers for the final exceed the requirements for the match and were greater than any other previous event at Wembley stadium," an FA spokesman said.