England fans ignore calls to drink non-alcoholic beer

Football fans in Cologne, where temperatures may reach 30C on Tuesday, before England's game against Slovenia
Football fans in Cologne, where temperatures may reach 30C on Tuesday, before England's game against Slovenia - Jeremy Selwyn/SelwynPics

England fans have ignored calls to drink in moderation or swap booze for non-alcoholic beer before Tuesday’s Euro match.

Thousands gathered in Cologne’s Alter Market and downed beers ranging from the city’s traditional 200ml measures to full pints and bottles from the supermarket.

Some doubted that people would follow advice on swapping Bitburger beer in fan parks for its non-alcoholic alternative.

“Good luck with that,” James Kaylow, a 40-year-old insurance underwriter, said. “I’ll try and moderate but I can’t see any fans sticking to that.

“It’s absolutely roasting. There’s gonna be a few sore heads here later on. It’s a long day ahead, the game doesn’t kick off until 9pm, so we’ll see how it goes.”

Fans have already began drinking alcohol ahead of England's match against Slovenia
Fans have already began drinking alcohol ahead of England's match against Slovenia - Markus Schreiber/AP
Thousands have gathered in Cologne to support England
Thousands have gathered in Cologne to support England - Paul Grover for the Telegraph

John Maslen-Jones, 60, said he was prepared for the high temperatures as he sipped from a bottle of water in the Alter Market.

The newsagent said: “I won’t drink no-alcohol beer, I’d rather drink water. My son and his mates are in the fan zone, so God knows what state they’re in. They won’t be drinking alcohol-free beer.”

High temperatures across Europe

As 50,000 fans descend on the west German city for England’s final Group C match against Slovenia on Tuesday evening, organisers said they would “proactively’’ ask fans to drink water or zero per cent lager.

Temperatures in Cologne could reach up to 30C as parts of the continent and Britain brace for a heatwave.

Organisers are on the look-out for supporters who may become dehydrated after drinking too much alcohol.

It will hit 25C when the teams kick off at 9pm local time - and with 56 per cent humidity it will feel more like 29C in the stadium.

Jutta Doppke-Metz, spokesman for Tuesday’s host city, said that organisers had prepared for issues related to heatwaves.

“Our aim was - and still is - to enable the residents and visitors to our city to celebrate a peaceful and joyful football festival that they will remember for a long time to come.

“That’s why we already took the climatic conditions of the summer into consideration when planning for UEFA Euro 2024 and created offers to counteract these in the fan zones and in the entire city centre area.”

In some of the city fan zones, Bitburger beers are only being served in half measures already, but Ms Doppke-Metz said volunteers would be encouraging fans to drink non-alcoholic alternatives.

She added: “Therefore we are offering free drinking water at four service and information points throughout the city and also sun cream for free at many locations in the city.

“Volunteers are also sensitised to the issue and proactively encourage fans in the fan zones to drink enough [non-alcoholic drinks]. There are also lots of shops everywhere in the city selling non-alcoholic drinks.”

England fans served with half measures in Cologne
England fans served with half measures in Cologne - Paul Grover

The move comes after fans attending England’s opening game against Serbia were limited to purchasing a 2.5 per cent “light beer” served in the stadium.

Fans were limited to two drinks at a time and not allowed to drink in the stands, with the measures in place only for England’s opening clash with Serbia in Gelsenkirchen.

England supporters in Cologne have so far been well-behaved according to the UK Football Policing Unit.

In an update on Tuesday it said: “Around 10,000 England fans gathered in Cologne [on Monday].

“There were no reports of disorder and no arrests of any England fans were made. This is indicative of what we have seen across Germany so far, with the vast majority of England fans behaving extremely well.”

England are guaranteed a place in the last 16 after Monday night’s results in Group B, but can still finish top, second or third in their group.