The Metropolitan Police have defended their tactics in a violent confrontation with Hungary fans at Wembley on Tuesday night. Video footage showed police officers with batons being kicked and beaten as they retreated from the away section, after a steward had allegedly been racially abused by the travelling support.
Police say the retreat was tactical and followed the arrest of the suspect. They confirmed that six people were subsequently arrested, with three arrests coming inside the stadium: one for a racially aggravated offence and two on suspicion of affray.
The Met’s response came as Fifa announced it had opened disciplinary proceedings in relation to events at England’s World Cup qualifier and said it strongly condemned the violence.
A Met spokesperson said: “A proportionate policing plan was in place to deal with any arising incidents. In this instance, the imperative was to get the arrested suspect into custody. Once the suspect had been removed, police officers withdrew.
“The other suspects involved in the violence against the officers had been identified and were arrested when it was tactically suitable to do so. A post-event investigation has been launched.”
Hungary are currently serving a suspended stadium ban for the behaviour of their fans at the reverse fixture in Budapest last month. Fifa issued the Hungarian Football Association with the punishment after England players were racially abused during their 4-0 victory.
Questions are likely to be asked of the decision to allow Hungary fans to travel to Wembley, where there was also a banner hoisted criticising the taking of the knee.
The disturbances return the focus on to security at Wembley after the disturbances at Euro 2020 which saw thousands of ticketless fans gain access for the final and scenes of chaos outside the ground.
Uefa has confirmed that a disciplinary hearing into the events of 11 July will be held on Monday. The hearing, which could take two days, could result in the English FA also being subject to a stadium ban and forced to play at least one Uefa match behind closed doors.