We’ll show Germany at Euro 2024 that we can behave, vow England fans

England football fans have vowed to travel to Germany in large numbers for Euro 2024 and show that “idiots” wanting to provoke trouble in the host country are a minority.

There were fears that some of England’s travelling fans would try to cause trouble next year after some fans sang the theme tune to the 1955 British war film The Dam Busters during last week’s match in Italy. During the match some fans also chanted about the death of Diego Maradona – in an arena known for its devotion to the former Napoli player who gave the stadium its name.

England face Ukraine at Wembley on Sunday in their next qualifier when they will try to build on last week’s 2-1 victory – their first away win against Italy since 1961. If they make it through the qualifying round they will fly out to Germany next year for the Euros, the first time the nation has staged the UEFA European Championship since its reunification, and its first major tournament since the 2006 World Cup. During that competition 200 England fans were arrested after rioting in the main square of Stuttgart.

England and Germany football fans clash with German riot police in Stuttgart during the World Cup tournament 24 June 2006.
England and Germany football fans clash with German riot police in Stuttgart during the World Cup tournament on 24 June 2006. Photograph: Toby Melville/REUTERS

But Kevin Miles, chief executive of the Football Supporters Association said the vast majority of England fans in 2006 had behaved well, adding that recent decades had continued to see a significant change in the behaviour of travelling fans.

“There’s a totally different atmosphere and support than there was in the dark days of the past,” he said. “I have every reason to expect that England fans will travel to Germany in big numbers and have a very positive impact on the atmosphere of the tournament. As we did last time.”

The Observer understands that a meeting to discuss Euro 2024 between fan groups, the Football Association, police, foreign office and others will take place in the next few months. An FA spokesperson said that all travel club members would, as for all tournaments, be police-checked and there were measures in place for fans to report anti-social or discriminatory behaviour. It is also expected that the most hardcore trouble-makers on banning orders – about 1,300 people – will be told to hand their passports into police before the tournament, as they were before last year’s World Cup in Qatar.

England fan Kirsty Payne, who has travelled the world supporting the team for more than 20 years, said that chants about “Two World Wars and One World Cup” made her heart sink, but were increasingly rare. “I think it’s dying out,” she said. “It costs a lot of money to travel so they are usually proper England supporters, who are there for the football. I think the atmosphere will be great and the Germans will put on a fantastic show.”

‘Sport can send a very big message of unity against evil’ – England fan Billy Grant.
‘Sport can send a very big message of unity against evil’ – England fan Billy Grant. Photograph: Antonio Olmos/The Observer

Her husband, Andy, who has supported England at every World Cup bar one for the past 40 years, said the tournament was a moment to show European solidarity. “In terms of the Dambuster lot, this Euros gives the whole of Europe the chance to support our Ukrainian friends,” he said. “That is a real war and it is happening now. Sport can send a very big message of unity against evil.”

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Other fans said the “out-dated” chants in Naples this week were not taken up by the majority of England fans, many of whom had discovered during the 2006 World Cup, that they had a lot in common with the fans of their traditional rivals, including a love of beer and obsession with the beautiful game.

Committed England follower Billy Grant, co-presenter of Brentford FC’s Beesotted podcast, called the chants aimed at Germany “total nonsense”. “Some idiots do it, but a lot of people don’t and don’t condone it,” he said.

He recalled deciding to go to Germany in 2006 at the last minute, having initially been put off, in part, by the nations rivalry. “I had the best time and the Germans were absolutely brilliant,” he said. “So there are a lot of people, like me, saying that they’re really looking forward to going back.”

source: theguardian.com