Berlin beefs up security for England football friendly

Berlin beefs up security for England football friendly
A file photo of an England fan in Frankfurt during the 2006 World Cup. Photo:DPA
Thousands of football fans are expected in Berlin on Wednesday to watch Germany take on England in a friendly. But with some 700 hooligans expected in the German capital, police will be out in full force to insure the match stays peaceful.

More than 1,000 police will be on duty to quell any fan flare ups in public areas. “We expect a peaceful atmosphere, but cannot rule out any disturbances,” police spokesperson Carsten Müller told daily Die Welt on Wednesday.

About 250 known English hooligans will likely be on hand, authorities said, well outnumbered by an expected 450 German hooligans. But police plan to meet rabble rousers at train stations and airports and “accompany them until their departure,” Interior Minister for the city-state of Berlin Ehrhart Körting told the paper.

There will be “more police than English hooligans,” Körting said. “I expect danger only to the English goalkeeper.”

German sport news agency SID reported police had detained five Englishmen and 17 Germans prior to match for disturbing the peace. English fans began arriving in Berlin on Tuesday afternoon.

Some 8,000 tickets to the sold-out game were made available to registered England fans, British Embassy spokeswoman Christiane Goedelt told The Local on Wednesday.

British police are working closely with Berlin authorities to prevent any altercations between the two sides, and English “Bobby” officers will also be on hand, she said. But the beefed up security may not be necessary after all.

“Relations between the two sides have significantly improved since the 2006 World Cup,” Goedelt told The Local. “Then there was hardly an incident and everyone had wonderful time.”

One group of England fans have even made special efforts to promote good relations between the two sides, she said. Members of the two nation’s fan clubs plan to play their own match in the district of Spandau before the professional match begins. They are also working on a football project with a Berlin elementary school and will place a wreath at the Berlin Holocaust memorial.

Meanwhile the pressure is on for the German national team, which has never won a friendly against England in the capital city Berlin.