Fans clash before England vs Serbia Euro 2024 game as German riot police 'arrest several'

Riot police in Gelsenkirchen
Riot police descended on the scene after the clashes broke out
Reuters
James Saunders

By James Saunders


Published: 16/06/2024

- 16:58

Eyewitness reports from the scene said 'everything you can imagine' had been lobbed at the travelling Serbia support

Police have swarmed to the scene in Germany for the second time today after violence erupted on the streets of Gelsenkirchen ahead of England's Euro 2024 opener against Serbia.

The match - already billed as high risk by German authorities - had seen several warnings issued ahead of kick-off, but now those fears have been realised after hooligans targeted a bar full of Serbian fans.


Just after 3.30pm local time, revelling fans outside the Aleppo bar on the Euro 2024 host city's Arminstrasse were hit with projectiles by a rowdy mob outside.

Eyewitness reports from the scene said "everything you can imagine" had been lobbed at the travelling Serbia support - before 200 riot police swarmed to the scene.

Riot police in Gelsenkirchen

Riot police descended on the scene after the clashes broke out

Reuters

Local reports have been split on the identities of the attackers - one claimed a "mass brawl" had been sparked by Albanian hooligans, while other outlets floated the possibility of England fans causing the chaos.

One eyewitness said: "Just arrived in centre of Gelsenkirchen and a large group of hooded face-covered locals attacked a load of Serbian fans outside a bar!

"Hundreds of England fans including kids eating and drinking yards away, totally uninvolved! Lively start to the day!"

While Sky Sports News' Kaveh Solhekol reported that local police have said that they did not believe the "flashpoint" incident - in which glasses and chairs were thrown - involved English fans.

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German police/Serbian fans

German police have been out in force ahead of England vs Serbia later tonight

Reuters

Albania fans had been in the area in the aftermath of their country's 2-1 loss to Italy in nearby Dortmund their first group stage game last night - while Serbian supporters were having lunch ahead of their own opener against Gareth Southgate's England side tonight.

And the clashes follow the news that England fans feeling threatened by Serbian "hooligans" during the two countries' opening game have been handed a secret 'code word' to flag down fears to police and match staff.

The Three Lions faithful at England vs Serbia can ask German authorities overseeing the tournament "Wo geht's nach PANAMA? [Which way to PANAMA?]" if crowd troubles begin to stir, the Telegraph revealed just days ago.

And this isn't the only time today that German police have been called into action; mere hours earlier, armed officers descended on streets outside a fan zone in fellow host city Hamburg after an axe-wielding man began threatening football supporters ahead of a Netherlands vs Poland game.

The attacker, wielding a pickaxe and a "Molotov cocktail"-style incendiary device, also threatened officers as they policed fans on the Reeperbahn, a major road in Hamburg's St Pauli district.

Officers had begun to use pepper spray against the axeman before opting to use their weapons, German outlet Bild reported.

And police said that one officer initially fired a warning shot to stop the attacker - before several more rounds were let off until the man finally fell to the ground.

Additional footage from the scene shows the attacker apparently attempting to light the "Molotov cocktail" before police shot him.

One witness at the scene, a Dutch football fan, praised the police response, saying officers "acted sharply and quickly".

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