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England fan violence at major tournaments: A history

In the build-up to Euro 2024, England fans have been served several warnings about their conduct from various outlets from the UK government to police chiefs in Germany.

In March, they were warned about the strength of the beer in Germany while a month later, police chiefs told them to use common sense during the tournament or risk the wrath of German officers.

Over in Germany, English football fans have been told that if they fall foul of any German public order laws then they could be marched straight to the nearest bank to pay an immediate fine.

In short, it's been a turbulent build-up but when you consider the England fan violence at major tournaments in years gone by, then the warnings are justified.

England fan violence at major tournaments
There are valid concerns about how England fans will behave at Euro 2024 – Photo by Icon Sport

England fan violence at major tournaments: A history

Although football hooliganism in England peaked during the 1970s and 80s, it wasn't until the 90s that England fans started to build a reputation for themselves on the international scene.

Euro '96

Euro '96 was famously hosted in England and the tournament went by without too much trouble until England lost their semi-final to Germany via a penalty shootout. Immediately after the conclusion of the match, a riot ensued in Trafalgar Square where several people were injured.

It wasn't just in London that chaos had ensued. In Brighton, a Russian man was mistaken for a German and stabbed. It was a truly sour end to a brilliant tournament.

World Cup '98

Two years later at the World Cup in France, England fans were on the lookout for trouble and violence once again. Over 100 England fans were arrested when supporters clashed with locals in Marseille ahead of their match with Tunisia in the group stages. More than 30 people ended up in hospital in fighting that lasted three days.

Euro 2000

Euro 2000 was a tournament to forget on and off the pitch. England were dumped out in the group stages but were nearly sent home even earlier due to fan violence.

Ahead of their group match with Germany in Brussels, England fans sparked riots which resulted in over 900 arrests and 400 English fans being deported. The police were forced to fire tear gas to stop the violence with the incident confirming UEFA's pre-tournament fears about travelling England fans.

Afterwards, the governing body contemplated kicking England out of the competitions but they lost their final group match against Romania which took the decision out of their hands.

World Cup 2002

England fans didn't cause any trouble of note at the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea. The costs involved to get to Asia meant a smaller-than-usual England contingent travelled to the tournament.

Euro 2004

Two years later and the situation couldn't have been any more different. The European Championships were held in Portugal and more than 50,000 England fans travelled over for it. On the whole, England fans were pretty well-behaved in Portugal and were praised by local police for their good behaviour.

The only blemish was successive nights of trouble in the Algarve after England were knocked out by Portugal. However, UEFA released a statement at the time stating that the violence had nothing to do with football.

World Cup 2006

Like the upcoming Euro 2024, the 2006 World Cup was held in Germany and England fans were given plenty of warnings about their behaviour in the build-up. England fans were involved in fights and riots in Stuttgart where over 200 preventative arrests were made.  The German police claimed that the average England fan drank or threw 30 pints during the riots in Stuttgart.

england fans world cup 2006
Police watching England fans in Stuttgart during the 2006 World Cup – Photo by Icon Sport

World Cup 2010

For the first time in decades, England fans managed to get through a major tournament without anyone being arrested at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

Euro 2012

After the success of South Africa, the FA had hoped that England fans had turned a corner ahead of Euro 2012 in Ukraine. However, that all came crashing down when they received a fine of £4,000 for the ‘inappropriate conduct' of England fans during a group stage win over Sweden. The fine was in relation to around 30 England fans trying to invade the pitch in Kyiv after a late Danny Welbeck winner.

World Cup 2014

Instead of fighting other fans at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, England fans turned on each other after being dumped out by Uruguay in the group stages. One England fan was forced to go to hospital after he had part of his ear bitten off by a fellow supporter.

Euro 2016

England fans were back fighting with other fans at Euro 2016 in France but this time, they picked on the wrong crowd. They clashed with Russian ultras before and after the two teams met on the pitch in Marseille with two England fans being left in critical conditions after being repeatedly stamped on the head.

Over 31 people were injured and hundreds of arrests were made, although those there said the situation could have been a lot more severe had England fans not fled when they became overwhelmed by Russian fans.

England fans euro 2016
An England fan being arrested in Marseille during Euro 2016 – Photo by Icon Sport

World Cup 2018

Considering the incident in 2016, there were huge fears about England fans ahead of the World Cup in Russia. However, due to strict policing and a low turnout from England fans, the tournament passed by without any violent incidents.

However, they were still involved in some controversy as a group of England fans were caught on camera making nazi salutes and using anti-Semitic slurs in Volgograd.

Euro 2020

Euro 2020 was largely played behind closed doors due to the Covid pandemic but Wembley Stadium opened up to 75% capacity for the final. England fans, who had spent much of the last year inside due to Covid regulations, made the most of their day of freedom, drinking from the early hour ahead of the nation's first major final since 1966.

Things turned nasty close to kick-off when thousands of England fans tried to storm security and police lines to break into Wembley Stadium without tickets. Plenty of fighting ensued and several fans were left with injuries. The incident sparked a change in security protocol at Wembley.

World Cup 2022

Not even England fans were daft enough to get drunk and be violent in Qatar for the 2022 World Cup. The tournament passed by without any English arrest with organisers praising England fans for their ‘impeccable' behaviour.


Andy Delaney

Andy is a freelance sports writer with ten years of experience covering major sporting events across Europe. He has also been a season ticket holder at Old Trafford since 2008 and has visited over 40 football stadiums in the United Kingdom and abroad following the Reds.

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