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Police Braced for More World Cup Trouble

June 15, 2006

BERLIN (AP) _ Police prepared for possible trouble from fans at England’s match against Trinidad and Tobago in the World Cup on Thursday, a day after the event’s first serious incidents with hooliganism.

Five days of opening World Cup calm ended with a volley of bottles and chairs as dozens of German hooligans clashed with police Wednesday before their country’s pivotal win over Poland. Police arrested more than 300 German and Polish hooligans.

Authorities in Nuremberg, where England’s fans were gathering for their team’s second match, said they were ready in case of more disturbances Thursday.

``It’s possible we will face the same thing,″ policeman Joachim Hagen said, adding that officials were well prepared.

``We have a strong force and we will keep a close watch,″ Hagen said.

The threat of fan violence had been a major theme ahead of the monthlong soccer tournament _ and England’s supporters were often cited as one potential danger.

At the 2000 European Championship, co-hosted by Belgium and the Netherlands, 945 Britons were arrested for soccer violence. The most severe rioting was in Charleroi and Brussels and led to European soccer administrators threatening England with expulsion from the tournament.

At the 1998 World Cup in France, German hooligans beat a French policeman nearly to death and England fans rioted in Marseille.

To head off trouble, authorities across Europe confiscated passports of known troublemakers, increased border patrols and drew up extensive policing plans for the dozen game cities.

While much of the focus was on the English, Dutch and Polish, it was homegrown fans behind Wednesday’s worst single incident, accounting for 120 arrests.

Seeking to apprehend a group of known German hooligans, officers came upon men throwing bottles and chairs and shooting fireworks, Dortmund police chief Hans Schulz said.

Several people were injured before the situation was controlled. Schulz said 100 people managed to flee.

``It was not a good atmosphere in Dortmund,″ he said.

Before that, tranquility in World Cup-hosting cities had allayed much of the fear over widespread hooliganism at soccer’s biggest event and even surprised police who had braced for the worst.

``On a normal Sunday, there might have been more for the police to do,″ Nuremberg police spokesman Michael Gaengler said after his city’s first match, between Mexico and Iran.

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Associated Press writers Matthias Armborst and Roy Kammerer in Dortmund, Germany, contributed to this report.

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