Met police to increase presence at Wembley for England v Hungary

By Paul MacInnes
Police officers outside Wembley Stadium before England’s game against Andorra in September.
Police officers outside Wembley Stadium before England’s game against Andorra in September. Photograph: John Sibley/Action Images/Reuters

The Metropolitan police are to increase their presence outside Wembley stadium on Tuesday night in the lead-up to the visit of Hungary.

Following the racist abuse directed at England players last month in the World Cup qualifying fixture in Budapest and the shocking unrest at the Euro 2020 final, the Football Association is also putting in place robust procedures to deal with any trouble.

Extra measures will be in operation despite fewer than 1,000 tickets having been sold to Hungary supporters for the Group I match.

“The Met is developing a policing plan to ensure the safety of visiting fans,” a spokesperson said. “A number of officers will be on duty, conducting high visibility patrols around Wembley Stadium.”

The absence of police intervention outside Wembley, particularly in the run-up to the Euro 2020 final against Italy, was one of the main criticisms made of officials following the disturbing events of 11 July. Public unrest outside the ground was followed by thousands of ticketless fans storming the stadium to gain entry in some of the worst scenes at an English football match in decades.

With sources at the time admitting they had been unprepared for the “unprecedented” disorder, the FA has drawn up what it believes are measures sufficient to protect fans and staff tonight.

The risk of similar scenes to those in July have been mitigated by the lack of travelling supporters, with most of the Hungarian FA’s ticket allocation sold to fans from inside the UK. Amber list restrictions have this week come to an end for people entering Britain but travellers are required to show proof of vaccination, with two of the most common vaccines used in Hungary – the Russian Sputnik and Sinovac from China – not recognised by British authorities.

Despite this the match is taking place just one month after England players were subjected to tirades of racist abuse during the 4-0 victory at the Ferenc Puskas Stadium. Racist and homophobic actions also occurred during matches held in Budapest at Euro 2020, and the Hungarian FA is subject to bans served by Uefa and Fifa, forcing the national team to play at least two competitive matches behind closed doors.

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