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English Police Can’t Stop Hooligans

June 19, 2000

ROTTERDAM, Netherlands (AP) _ British police said Monday there is little they can do to stop hooligans from resuming the violence that threatens England with expulsion from the European Soccer Championships.

``We have no powers to stop them traveling,″ said Steve Chisnall, of the Greater Manchester Police Football Intelligence Unit. ``We give their details to foreign authorities and we inform individuals there is a possibility when they get to their destination, they will be turned around and sent back home.

``There’s always more that can be done but, as far as we are concerned, we can only act within the law to prevent people from traveling. Whether something more can be done is up to someone else.″

Chisnall’s comments apply only to people known for soccer-related violence. And British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Home Secretary Jack Straw said most of the 850 fans detained before and after England’s 1-0 victory over Germany weren’t on the list of known troublemakers.

That could spell more trouble for the Belgian police, the organizers and the English team, which could be kicked out of the competition if fans cause trouble again in Charleroi at Tuesday’s game against Romania.

England has a great chance to qualify for a quarterfinal game against Italy but UEFA has warned that any repetition of the violence in Brussels and Charleroi last weekend could mean expulsion from the competition.

Straw told the House of Commons in London on Monday that the government would introduce legislation to ban all soccer louts from games in England for life.

Expressing his ``deep apologies″ to the people of Belgium, Straw said: ``I am sure the whole House will share my feelings of outrage and shame as we witnessed our fellow citizens engaged in appalling drunken violence on the streets of Belgium. These people have disgraced the nation and our national game.″

He also said the police and customs would step up immigration checks to watch for known hooligans trying to leave the country and offer more assistance to the Belgians to spot them once they arrive.

Blair, in Portugal for a European Union summit, also condemned the violence.

``I deeply regret the behavior of a small group of people who aren’t football fans at all, they are hooligans who disgrace and shame this country,″ he said. ``And these people who engage in these appalling acts of hooliganism and violence _ they have no place in our national way of life at all. They disgrace our national way of life.″

``But it’s important to emphasize that the vast majority of these people weren’t on any intelligence records at all.″

Meanwhile the English Premier League threatened to ban anyone convicted of violence at Euro 2000 from its domestic games.

``We’ll work closely with the clubs and the police to put in place the means to enforce life bans on those convicted of hooligan-related offenses via withdrawal of season tickets and a stop on admission to grounds,″ said Premier League spokesman Mike Lee.

``The hooligans should be in no doubt they will pay a further price if they try and make the England national team suffer for their stupidity.″

England’s rivals at Euro 2000 seem split over whether UEFA should carry out its threat.

With the top two teams in each group qualifying for the last eight, the nation likely to benefit most if England is thrown out is Germany, which is expected to finish third if England qualifies second behind Portugal. The Germans need to beat Portugal to finish second and hope England slips up against the Romanians.

But coach Erich Ribbeck does not want to enter the last eight by the back door.

``I belong to the generation that still thinks sportman-like,″ he said. ``Therefore I don’t waste any thoughts on that. Even if this is not understood by some.″

But Spanish soccer federation chief Angel Maria Villar, along with Dutch players Frank de Boer and Pierre Van Hooydonk, indicated they favored expelling England.

``We’re dealing with 1,800 people that have nothing to do with football and are not really English fans,″ said Villar. ``In exceptional situations like this, exceptional measures have to be taken.″

De Boer described the English violence as very disappointing.

``If you see the Dutch supporters or the Norwegians, they just want a party. But some just want to disturb that party for no reason,″ the Dutch captain said. ``I back the decision of UEFA. They must do something and it is the only thing they can do.″

Van Hooydonk said UEFA had to deal with the menace of the English fans.

``The threat made me very happy,″ he said. ``You can keep coming up with new ideas such as names on tickets but, at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what you do. The best thing they can do is make a point.″

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