Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

‘We couldn’t think of a better recipe for transmitting Covid’: Policing expert hits out at Euro 2020 arrangements

Scotland fans at London's Kings Cross Station ahead of the match between Scotland and England.
Scotland fans at London's Kings Cross Station ahead of the match between Scotland and England.

A leading expert on policing crowds has hit out at a lack of arrangements for the thousands of Scotland fans who travelled to London for the highly-anticipated Euro 2020 clash with England.

Clifford Stott, professor of social psychology at Keele University and a participant of the Sage group, whose work feeds into the government’s scientific advisory body, said the scenes in central London on Friday were “very predictable”.

Thousands of Tartan Army supporters travelled south to soak up the atmosphere but with just 20,000 allowed into Wembley Stadium, fans were warned not to travel unless they have arranged somewhere safe to watch the match.

Met Police ordered a dispersal order ahead of the clash running until 3pm on Saturday and said it would “prevent the public being caused alarm, harassment and distress”.

Scotland fans in London.
Scotland fans in London.

Many tickets were booked in advance when Wembley originally allocated Scottish fans more than 18,000 seats but this was decreased to 2,600 because of Covid restrictions.

With just hours to go before kick-off, UK policing minister Kit Malthouse urged Scotland fans who had not made arrangements to go home.

He said: “It’s obviously very unfortunate. I know the Met Police put a dispersal order in yesterday in central London to disperse quite rowdy crowds.

“I hope those fans realise they have an individual duty towards our collective health, they take it seriously, and if they are staying in London – there’s still time for them to get a ticket back to Scotland – that they find a socially distanced way to do it.”

The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, sports minister Nigel Huddleston and the Scottish Government have also reminded fans they should only travel if they have a ticket for the match or fan zone or a safe place to watch the game.

However, Prof Stott said officials had known “for weeks, if not months, that this was going to happen” and it is a shame supporters were “left with a situation where their gathering hasn’t been facilitated in ways that maximise public safety.”

He believes much of the issue comes down to officials asking, rather than telling, supporters to stay away and a lack of focus on ways to make the situation safer when it became clear many fans would travel.

“Whether we wanted that to happen or not, it is the reality that needs to be dealt with and given that reality is there, we need to think in ways that maximise public safety,” he told BBC’s Good Morning Scotland programme.

Professor Clifford Stott.
Professor Clifford Stott.

“I think it’s a shame, therefore, that they haven’t been provided with a fan zone in a large open space so they could gather together in ways that are relatively safer than the ways in which they are currently gathering together.”

The traditional meeting spot of Trafalgar Square was not available to Scotland fans because it is being used as a socially-distanced, ticketed fan zone for 750 key workers, and screens are not visible without access.

We thought there should have been more foresight, London is the capital city, the main hosting city for the tournament.”

Scottish Football Supporters Association

Supporters could be seen gathering outside King’s Cross train station, dancing and singing to their adopted anthem Yes Sir, I Can Boogie, a 1977 hit by Baccara, from the early afternoon on Friday.

Prof Stott said the decision led to “pockets of Scotland fans” in areas across London and many supporters gathering in hot, densely crowded pubs, adding: “We couldn’t think of a better recipe for transmitting Covid.”

“The perspective in this context of football is one of public order but, actually, in the context of the pandemic, the priority should be to public health,” he said.

“The ambiguity, the difficulty of putting a public health lens into how the police think about the management of crowds in the European Championships is the issue.

Fans singing and dancing to Yes Sir, I can Boogie.

“But let’s not forget we are in the midst of a European Championship where London has put itself forward as a major host city.

“It’s going to be hosting quarter-finals, semi-finals and the final.

“It better get used to hosting large crowds of football fans travelling, and if the issue was that it didn’t want to have those fans then there should have been decisions made around the European Championships themselves.”

Surprised and disappointed

Paul Goodwin, co-founder of the Scottish Football Supporters Association, said: “We are surprised and disappointed that there isn’t a fan zone in London.

“We thought there should have been more foresight, London is the capital city, the main hosting city for the tournament.

“It’s not just Scotland-England here, it would have been the perfect test if they did have a fan zone, but what happens if it’s France and England or Germany and England in the final, are people going to be content with what they’ve got?

“However, we are pragmatic, we’re realists, we totally understand as football fans, but also as human beings in the pandemic, of the big picture.”

Already a subscriber? Sign in

[[title]]

[[text]]