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Police fear 500 Serbian football hooligans to unleash hell on England

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German police fear up to 500 Serbian football hooligans will try to cause violence at England’s first men’s game of Euro 2024 on Sunday.

Gareth Southgate‘s side will play Serbia in the ‘high risk’ tie on Sunday evening in the Veltins Arena, Gelsenkirchen, home to German side Schalke.

It is estimated some 40,000 Britons will make the trek to support their team at the game, compared to between 5,000 and 8,000 Serbian fans.

But local police chiefs are wary, with the city’s boss Peter Both telling the Guardian his officers were expecting ‘up to 400 or 500 ­violence-seeking ­Serbian ­hooligans will travel to ­Germany.’

Mr Both said: ‘The biggest challenge for us will be to identify violent, disruptive groups at an early stage, to separate them from peaceful and law-abiding fans.’

It is feared England fans could be a target for violent Serbian football hooligans at Sunday’s game
Gareth Southgate ‘s side will play Serbia in the ‘high risk’ tie on Sunday evening in the Veltins Arena, Gelsenkirchen, home to German side Schalke
England fans greet the arrival of the team in Germany earlier this week, ahead of their opening match on Sunday

German police chiefs have been engaging with authorities in the UK and in Serbia in an effort to avoid ugly scenes at this weekend’s game.

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Serbia’s football fans are some of the most notorious for their tendency to create carnage during matches. 

Some fans name themselves ‘ultras’, with many of these belonging to far-right pro-Russian groups Delije or Strongmen supporters of Serbian league champions, Red Star Belgrade.

In a particularly violent incident in 2014, a match between Serbia and Albania had to be abandoned after fans stormed the pitch and began attacking players. 

One of the most notorious Serbian hooligans Ivan Bogdanov earned the nickname Ivan the Terrible and has been linked to paramilitary groups.

In a Euro 2012 qualifying match against Italy, he rallied supporters to attack rival fans and police and tear down barriers separating them. 

Fireworks and flares were thrown on to the pitch during the warm up, and the match ultimately had to be abandoned just minutes into the game.

And in 2009, 14 Serbian football hooligans were jailed for the murder of French fan Brice Taton, who was beaten to death in Belgrade. 

One of the most notorious Serbian hooligans Ivan Bogdanov (pictured) earned the nickname Ivan the Terrible and has been linked to paramilitary groups
Serbia fans challenge Italian police prior to the start of a Group C, Euro 2012 qualifying match – it was eventually abandoned
A Serbia fan gestures towards riot police during the UEFA EURO 2012 Group C qualifier between Italy and Serbia at Luigi Ferraris Stadium
Hardcore Serbian football hooligans, often known as Ultras, have been known to cause major violence at previous international ties

More than 1,600 fans from England with football banning orders have been made to surrender their passports until the end of the tournament to ensure they do not travel to Germany. 

Around 1,000 police officers will be on duty this weekend as they try to keep the peace between rival fan camps.

Some British officers will also travel to the city to be on the look out for known English hooligans and those with banning orders. 

The German authorities have announced detailed searches for weapons and fireworks and promise a special command centre to co-ordinate riot police and ‘tactical response’ units. 

But they will reportedly not intervene if England fans sing ‘Ten German Bombers’.

Mr Both said: ‘The chanting of Ten German Bombers is not criminal. It’s not forbidden in Germany. It’s stupid. It’s a stupid song. 

‘The English national coach said about that and he’s absolutely right. It’s ridiculous. It’s a stupid song, but it’s not forbidden.’

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