'Don't score an own goal' - police warning ahead of big Euros kick-off
- Credit: PA
As Suffolk and Essex gears up for the long-awaited European Championships, police are urging football fans to behave responsibly during the tournament.
Officers are reminding supporters to respect others while cheering on Gareth Southgate's Three Lions and are urging those drinking alcohol during the summer of football to have plans in place for getting home.
Police in Suffolk have been working with licensees planning to screen games and say they will be giving extra support to residents and businesses at match times.
The tournament, which was postponed in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, will begin on Friday when Italy take on Turkey at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome.
Chief Inspector Matt Carney said "there is no excuse for abusive behaviour" in any setting.
"After a difficult year with lockdown restrictions and not being able to enjoy social interactions, we understand that many are awaiting the Euros with some anticipation," he said.
"The earlier matches in the tournament take place while some Covid-19 restrictions remain in place, and so we would like to remind everyone to adhere to government guidance.
"The Euros bring joy and anguish, in equal measures, to fans and we encourage everyone to enjoy the tournament but remember to be considerate, mindful and tolerant of others.
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"Alcohol combined with emotion and passion can sometimes lead to incidents of antisocial behaviour and violence, and these have real consequences. There is no excuse for abusive behaviour in any setting, so we urge people to act responsibly.
"If you’re going out to watch the matches, whether that’s in a pub or at any other outdoor screening, remember to look out for your friends and ensure you have arranged how you’re getting home.”
Tim Passmore, Suffolk police and crime commissioner, added: "Watching any sport can be thirsty work and it is perfectly natural to enjoy a pint or two when watching the football. We don’t want to spoil the fun we just want to remind everyone to act responsibly – abusive and irresponsible behaviour is not acceptable.
"After the year we’ve had I hope we are now at a stage where people can get out and enjoy the company of friends and family but let’s all make a concerted effort to be sensible and not spoil this newfound freedom.”
Essex Police highlighted incidents of disorder in Colchester and Brentwood during the World Cup in Russia in 2018, and stressed that identified offenders were punished.
Superintendent Nick Morris, who is leading the Essex Police Euros operation, said: “We understand this tournament has been a long time coming, having been postponed last year due to coronavirus pandemic, and many people will be excited to see what Gareth Southgate’s team can do this time around.
“But we would urge you not to score an own goal by using it as an excuse to commit crime, such as drink or drug driving, take part in disorder or commit clear and blatant breaches of the coronavirus regulations.
“We have been in touch with licensed premises across the county and they are aware of what is expected of them."
He added: “As a force, we remember what took place in parts of the county, such as Colchester and Brentwood, during the World Cup in Russia in 2018 and each person who we identified as taking part in disorder on those occasions has been dealt with and they have had to deal with the consequences of their actions.
“We will have additional patrols in place during high profile matches to ensure that people enjoy them responsibly.
“If you do use the event to take part in disorder, commit crime or commit blatant breaches of coronavirus regulations, we will take action."