England could be forced to play without fans after Uefa investigates final chaos

·2-min read
<span>Photograph: David Cliff/AP</span>
Photograph: David Cliff/AP

England risk being handed a stadium ban by Uefa after the governing body opened an investigation into the chaotic and violent scenes at Wembley around the Euro 2020 final, meaning one or more of their Nations League games next year could be played behind closed doors.

The Football Association faces an anxious wait to see what Uefa’s ethics and disciplinary committee makes of what became a disturbingly unruly afternoon on Sunday. Uefa said its investigation would be into “events involving supporters which occurred inside and around the stadium”; it is already understood that hundreds of people without tickets attempted to break through barriers, turnstiles and gates to enter Wembley, and that a significant number succeeded in doing so.

Related: ‘No fair play, we’re English’: Europe’s press reacts to Euro 2020 chaos

Uefa separately charged the FA over fans’ behaviour inside the ground before and during the game, which England lost on penalties to Italy. Those offences were invasion of the pitch, throwing of objects, booing of the Italian national anthem and the lighting of a firework.

The FA was fined £25,630 following crowd trouble of a similar nature at last Wednesday’s semi-final against Denmark and it will face a heftier bill if found guilty this time. On that occasion a laser pen was shone at the goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel, the Danish national anthem was booed and fireworks were set off.

Although a stadium ban would be at the sharp end of Uefa’s punishment scale, Sunday’s scenes are likely to be looked upon dimly. Should England be forced to play in front of empty stands, they would be required to do so in their next match – or matches – under Uefa’s direct jurisdiction. That means their Fifa-run World Cup qualifiers against Andorra and Hungary this autumn would be unaffected, but games in the 2022-23 Nations League campaign could be at risk.

Uefa has shown this summer that it is willing to clamp down on associations whose fans misbehave seriously at venues. This month it ordered Hungary to play two games behind closed doors in Uefa competition, and pay a €100,000 (£85,500) fine, for racist and homophobic abuse during the Euro 2020 group stage.

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