The England vs Italy Euro clash could have been abandoned without swift police intervention, the Met Police’s deputy assistant commissioner has said.
Deputy assistant commissioner Jane Connors has defended the decisions made by officers at the Euro 2020 final which saw England lose to Italy in a dramatic penalty shootout.
The team’s success in making their first major final in 55 years was tarnished by a minority of fans who fought with police and caused chaos at Wembley Stadium on Sunday.
Questions were raised about policing of the game and stadium security after ticketless fans were seen fighting with stewards and pushing through barriers before the match.
Speaking after the match, DAC Connors defended the policing operation and decisions made by officers who potentially helped save the match from being shut down.
“I do not accept that the policing operation failed and I standby the difficult decisions made by police officers and the Met’s public order commanders,” she said in a statement.
“Without their immediate intervention, it is possible that this game could have been abandoned.”
She added: “I am in no doubt that their swift action prevented any further escalation.”
A total 19 officers were injured in the aftermath and 86 people have been arrested including as many as 53 made at Wembley, Scotland Yard has confirmed.
Riot police broke through crowds outside the stadium when fans left the game, with some throwing bottles and chanting anti-Italian slogans after England lost on penalties.
DAC Connors added: “Throughout the course of the day, police officers witnessed disgraceful behaviour both in central London and at Wembley.
“I share the nation’s anger at this behaviour. I want to reiterate the Met’s commitment to identifying those responsible for the scenes both in Wembley and in central London, their actions will have consequences.”
Ahead of the final, the Met launched one of the most significant policing plans it has ever committed to a football match of such scale.
But in Wembley, it soon became clear that a high number of fans were arriving without tickets.
“Soon after gates opened, the stewarding and outer security perimeter became overwhelmed and fans began pushing through security checks,” DAC Connors added.
“I want to praise the quick response by police commanders and those brave officers who confronted these subsequent scenes of disorder and violence.
The ugly scenes at Wembley will be reviewed by the Football Association and by police, according to the deputy assistant commissioner.
She added: “Where lessons can be learnt we will work with partners to ensure that future matches are not disrupted by a group of hooligans who are fueled on alcohol.”
Further arrests are expected in the days and weeks ahead.