GELSENKIRCHEN: The head of a British police team working in Germany said on Friday that he was confident there would be no trouble from England fans in Gelsenkirchen as the supporters were spread out over a large area.
Over 500 England fans were detained in Stuttgart before their side’s second-round match against Ecuador in the town’s main square following clashes with German supporters and riot police.
But in Gelsenkirchen, the venue for today’s quarter-final match against Portugal, the fans are spread over several miles, in the town centre, camp sites and fan park areas.
“Our supporters will be spread over the region, rather than being in one area,” the Assistant Chief Constable Stephen Thomas told a press conference. “I think that’s a good thing because it will avoid the scenes we saw in Stuttgart. We won’t see the repeat of those incidents here,” he said before praising the supporters.
Some 70,000 England supporters are expected to descend on the industrial city for England’s match and unlike the other venues England have played in, Gelsenkirchen has a small town feel to it with no obvious focal point.
The Gelsenkirchen Mayor Frank Baranowski said he was not concerned by the situation however and said there would be enough room to accomodate the thousands of fans who follow the England team.
“We are ready,” he said. “This is the second smallest host city but football is at home (here),” he said of the town that is home to club side Schalke 04.
Following England’s 1-0 win over Ecuador last Sunday, Gelsenkirchen’s officials decided to build a second fan park area outside of the town, which will hold over 40,000 fans and show the games on big screens with English commentary. The site was still being constructed on Friday.
The English supporters have had a long history of football-related violence but there has been little trouble in Germany, as more and more families choose to follow the national team and make the tournament part of their summer holiday.
Some 5,800 people have been arrested in Germany during the tournament so far, including 593 English.