Police temporarily detain 8 after clash between Serbia and England fans at Euro 2024

GELSENKIRCHEN, Germany (AP) — Eight people were temporarily detained following a brawl between Serbia and England fans in Gelsenkirchen ahead of the teams’ opening European Championship match, police said Monday.

Authorities said the incident on Sunday was over quickly and they were satisfied overall with the security operation surrounding the match, which was classified as high risk by police over concerns about potential fan violence. Both sets of supporters have a reputation for causing trouble before and during matches.

In what police described as the only notable clash, social media footage showed men throwing chairs at each other outside a restaurant festooned with Serbian flags. Police said a group of Serbia fans was eating inside when a large group of England fans tried to get in.

Reporters who arrived shortly afterward found the street littered with broken glass and tables as several dozen police officers stood by.

Seven Serbia supporters and one England fan were detained after the brawl and missed the match, senior Gelsenkirchen police official Peter Both said. He added one fan went to a hospital with a head injury but discharged himself to watch the game. Officials were not aware of anyone else being hurt.

Both said the detained fans were released during the night, but police were in contact with UEFA and would recommend them being barred from upcoming matches.

Later Monday, U.K. police said a 39-year-old man from Bolton was detained at Manchester airport upon his return from Germany following the disorder in Gelsenkirchen.

Police didn’t specify the charges against him but said he would appear in court on Tuesday for a football banning order hearing. British courts can impose such orders to prohibit fans from attending soccer matches.

“This action shows the breadth of the Euro 2024 football policing operation and demonstrates there are consequences for supporters who are intent on causing disorder,” Mick Johnson, head of the U.K. Football Policing Unit, said in a statement.

In an unrelated incident Sunday, German police shot and wounded a man who was threatening them with a pick hammer and a Molotov cocktail in the northern city of Hamburg, hours before the game between the Netherlands and Poland. Police said the man may have been suffering from mental illness and there was no indication the incident was related to the Euro 2024 game.

German Interior Ministry spokesperson Maximilian Kall said security officials view the tournament’s first weekend positively and their risk assessment hasn’t changed.

“There were incidents at the weekend, for example … with hooligans yesterday in Gelsenkirchen, but that was a situation the police there tackled quickly and above all were prepared for,” Kall said in Berlin. “So far there have been no surprising events.”


AP Euro 2024: https://apnews.com/hub/euro-2024

Copyright © 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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