England fans face being targeted by notorious Serbian hooligans & Ultras firms at ‘high risk’ Euro 2024 match

09 June 2024 , 18:27
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Serbian Hooligans are one of the most notorious football fans known to create carnage during big games
Serbian Hooligans are one of the most notorious football fans known to create carnage during big games

England fans were ambushed by Russians in Marseille at Euro 2016

England fans have been warned they could be targeted at the Euros by notorious Serbian hooligans who are known to create brutal carnage at big games.

Their opening clash with Serbia has been identified as one of the four "high-risk" matches in the group stages of the tournament this season.

England fans are at risk of being targeted by hooligans at Euro 2024 rriddqikeiqtkinv

England fans are at risk of being targeted by hooligans at Euro 2024Credit: Getty Images - Getty

Balaclava-clad Serbian fan Ivan Bogdanov gestures towards riot police during the Euro 2012 qualifying match

Balaclava-clad Serbian fan Ivan Bogdanov gestures towards riot police during the Euro 2012 qualifying matchCredit: Getty

 

Serbian riot police officers push back hooligans during a match in 2018

Serbian riot police officers push back hooligans during a match in 2018Credit: AP:Associated Press

England take on Serbia at the Veltins-Arena in Gelsenkirchen in western Germany next Sunday.

But while it will be the chance for Gareth Southgate’s men to lay down a marker as one of the favourites to win the Euros, the match could be the centre of hooliganism for many fans.

Travelling Three Lions supporters have forged a poor reputation for their behaviour overseas over the years.

And the cheap price of strong beer has led to the Foreign Office issuing an official warning to fans telling them to "drink responsibly".

Following the Covid pandemic and the winter Qatar World Cup, this tournament presents the first chance for a new generation of supporters to follow England at a major tournament.

Approximately 1,600 known troublemakers were forced to surrender their passports for the duration of Euro 2024.

However, there is a real and genuine threat of rival fans wanting to confront their English counterparts in Germany - especially by the Serbians.

Serbian hooligans are one of the most violent football fans in the whole world.

They have a reputation for clashing with cops and security teams after wreaking havoc at the football pitches.

Some of their signature moves include setting off flares in between matches, fighting with rival fans, and hurling brutal insults as well as provoking others.

Serbian "ultras" in particular - many of which are part of the far-right pro-Russian "Delije" or "Strongmen" Red Star Belgrade fan groups - have already made their desire to fight English and German nationals.

In 2018, Serbian and Brazilian fans were pictured brawling in the stands during a game in Russia.

Serb supporters were recorded chanting "Kill the Albanians" and wore T-shirts of Serbian war crimes general Ratko Mladic in a heated snub to two ethnic Albanians in the Swiss squad.

Kosovo fought Serbia in a bitter war for independence in 1999 that resulted in the deaths of thousands of civilians and soldiers on both sides.

In 2014, a mass brawl broke out between fans at a Euro 2016 qualifier between Serbia and Albania.

Fans stormed the Partizan stadium in Belgrade and attacked players before riot police were called in to break up the bloody fight, forcing the match to be abandoned.

Supporters are known to plan their violent parades days before a match and have repeatedly said they would die for their club, according to Vice TV.

Roughly 500,000 Serbs live in Germany and there are fears some may head to Gelsenkirchen specifically to cause trouble around the England game - similar to the scenes in Marseille at Euro 2016 when Three Lions fans were attacked by Russians.

Scotland supporters are also thought to be at risk when they take on Hungary on June 23 at Stuttgart’s MHPArena.

One East European platform has even chillingly vowed daily updates from the Euros “where we will cover the matches and, above all, events outside the stadium”.

Up to 1,300 police officers will be deployed on matchday around the grounds with extra surveillance at fan zones and city centres as part of the massive security operation at the Euros.

It is understood British police "spotters" and plain-clothed officers will also be on hand to watch England fans - especially at the Trabrennbahn racecourse where there is a fan zone for 40,000 Three Lions followers near the Veltins-Arena for the Serbia game.

However, Germany’s experience with hosting major widescale sporting events means they are well prepared - which could put off some hooligans from trying to start problems.

A UK law enforcement source told the i: “If you were going to hold this tournament at this time anywhere apart from the UK, then you would choose Germany.

"They have a lot of experience at this kind of thing and they are putting in place a comprehensive system.

“But it’s a complex picture and unfortunately England fans are still regarded as fair game, or even desirable targets, by opposing hooligan groupings.

"There is particular concern about the Serbia game.”

Professor Dr Geoff Pearson added to the i: “Generally, England fans don’t go looking to start fights these days.

"There are some who may misbehave a bit and attract the attention of the police.

"The higher risk is that local groups or other groups start targeting them.”

A policeman arrests a supporter after clashes between Red Star Belgrade’s and Partizan Belgrade’s hooligans

A policeman arrests a supporter after clashes between Red Star Belgrade’s and Partizan Belgrade’s hooligansCredit: Reuters

Russia hooligan charge at England supporters at end of Euro 2016

Russia hooligan charge at England supporters at end of Euro 2016Credit: Splash News

England face Serbia in their Group C opener on June 9

England face Serbia in their Group C opener on June 9Credit: Rex

Thomas Brown

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