Euro 2020 has come and gone with ‘Football Coming (to) Rome‘ rather than England’s own claim of it ‘coming home‘. Gareth Southgate’s brave young lions bowed out, beaten on penalties by a even braver, better Italy who claimed their second ever European Championship.
It was an event held amid a backdrop of repugnant behaviour outside the ground by home fans and online by keyboard warriors with racial slurs against three black players who each missed a penalty in their shootout demise at Wembley.
But what of the wider consequences for the reprehensible behaviour displayed so brazenly by knuckle headed supporters? Why would (FIFA, The Watching World) care? The power brokers in London certainly do.
The rights to land the FIFA World Cup in 2030 are foremost in their minds and last night’s behaviour will shine a spotlight on what appears to be a wholly unprepared country for hosting such an event.
A few weeks ago Prime Minister Boris Johnson in No. 10 Downing street made a contentious call in agreeing to waive quarantine restrictions for footballing VIPs last month, with the objective to keep the final at Wembley, rather than in restriction-free Budapest.
The bigger prize, however, was the chance for Boris to lobby the game’s power-brokers in person before Britain and Ireland’s bid for another: the 2030 World Cup.
Last night, watching hundreds of ticketless fans rampage up from a glass-strewn Wembley Way, swindle their way through light-touch security checks and barge past stewards, it seemed that dream was likely to die.
It was reported last week that some ministers who had been to games earlier in the tournament feared that checks outside the stadium were nothing like as rigorous enough. They were right.
Torturous negotiations over increasing Wembley’s gate from 60,000 to a full house of 90,000 — not that it really mattered in the end — were dashed, Uefa and government insiders say, by concerns about Tube capacity and Covid.
To that list of concerns Uefa might now add policing, security, and, regrettably, the many thousands of morons — unworthy of the label fans — who gravitated to Wembley Way and Leicester Square yesterday and will inevitably do so again.