The Final: Attack on Wembley | What went wrong at the Euro 2020 final?

What went wrong at the Euro 2020 final?

Football. It’s only a game, right? Well, it depends on who you ask!

For some people, football is an enjoyable pastime, be that playing the sport or watching it. But for others, it’s an obsession. Some might even say “their life,” so passionate are they about the ‘beautiful game.’

Take the thousands of England supporters who turned up at Wembley Stadium on 11 July 2021, for example. For them, the game they were about to see was a cause for celebration. It was the England team’s first final since 1966, so understandably, the fans were very excited. 

Unfortunately, some fans were more than a little enthused to see England’s game against Italy. They behaved in ways which caused chaos and destruction, as can be seen in the Netflix documentary, The Final: Attack on Wembley

So, what happened at Wembley Stadium on that fateful (and shameful) day? Let’s take a closer look at the event. 

What happened at the Euro 2020 final at Wembley?

There was only supposed to be one clash at the Euro 2020 final – the England vs Italy game, which was due to kick off at 8 pm on July 11, 2021. 

However, things kicked off way before then. We’re referring to the clash between fans and the police, which happened in the run-up to the big game.

Earlier in the morning, many of the fans outside the stadium began to drink heavily. Some also took drugs, which were being passed around to those who wanted to start the day on a high. 

As fans became increasingly intoxicated, the behaviour of the crowd grew increasingly worse.

Initially, their actions were silly rather than dangerous. One guy seen in the documentary wears a traffic cone on his head, for example. 

But as the day went on, a lot of fans acted more irresponsibly, such as letting off fireworks and throwing glass bottles, without consideration of the safety of others. 

When people were finally allowed into the stadium, those without tickets tried to barge their way in. Fences were knocked down, as were some of the stewards, as the ticketless fans stormed their way into the venue.

Managing the situation was difficult. At one point, the turnstiles were locked down to stop the ticketless from gaining entry. But this was impractical as there were a lot of honest (and civilized) fans who did have tickets. 

Chaos erupted, with mobs of people rushing past the gates and finding alternative ways to enter the stadium. As seen in the Netflix documentary, violence erupted with fights breaking out as the drunk and disorderly caused mayhem.

Eventually, police were called and they formed a barricade to prevent anybody without tickets from getting in.

Meanwhile, stadium officials were worried that the drunken fans at the game would behave worse if the England team won. As it happened, the England team lost on penalties. This was a sad turn of events for the fans but for the officials, it was something of a relief as the mood of the crowd changed from excited jubilation to subdued sorrow.

After the game, some fans posted racist comments about Marcus Rashford and Bukayo Sako, the players who missed the penalties. They also defaced a mural that was painted in honour of Rashford for his contributions to charity. This behaviour is disgusting. But in terms of violence and mayhem, that all but ended when England lost the game. 

What went wrong at the Euro 2020 final?

Drink and drugs are largely to blame for the chaotic events at Wembley. However, it’s believed that some fans turned up at the stadium with no intention of getting a ticket, so intoxicated or not, they had plans to break into the venue.

The COVID restrictions were also a factor. 25,000 seats were left empty because of social distancing rules, so this gave ticketless fans further incentive to get in as they knew seats were available.

A review into the event was later carried out. In the Football Association-commissioned report, Baroness Casey said: 

“I am clear that the primary responsibility for what went wrong at Wembley that day lies with those who lost control of their own behaviour that day, not with anyone who did their best but lost control of the crowd. Nevertheless there are always lessons to be learned. No one was fully prepared for what happened that day and it can’t be allowed to happen again.”

Of the problems listed, Casey mentioned a lack of clarity over who had responsibility for controlling one of the zones. She laid some blame on the inflexibility of the police who initially didn’t show up in high numbers. There was also criticism of the government for denying extra fan zones to defuse crowd pressures. (source)

Her report laid out several recommendations to limit future risks. We hope these are heeded as nobody wants another day like July 11, 2021, when the fans drew more attention than the players on the field. 

What did you think about the chaos at Wembley? Let us know in the comments below. 

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