Britons held as Norway goes on hooligan alert

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The Independent Online
A group of nine Britons and one Dane suspected of being football hooligans on their way to England's international match in Oslo were yesterday arrested by Norwegian police.

Two others were immediately deported after checks into their backgrounds and the rest were detained at police headquarters pending further investigation. In addition, two Britons were arrested for shoplifting.

The 10-strong party was taken to Oslo for questioning after being stopped by police on a train at Sarpsborg near the Norwegian-Swedish border while seeking entry from Denmark. At least one of the group is suspected of being a member of Combat 18, an English neo-Nazi organisation believed to have incited the riot that halted England's match against the Republic of Ireland in Dublin last February.

Under a new Norwegian law, foreigners can be deported if they have been convicted in the last five years of a crime that would carry a three-month jail sentence in Norway. The two arrested for shoplifting are from Newcastle and charges were being considered last night.

All police leave in Oslo has been cancelled and around 500 officers - all trained in riot control - are on duty. They are being helped by officers from the International Football Intelligence Unit in London, who are monitoring ports, airports and Oslo's Central Station, and are checking passports. Dogs and mounted police are on standby. Some 400 England fans are travelling with the Football Association's official Travel Club but about 300 more are expected to arrive independently without tickets. "If they have no tickets they will not get into the stadium," said the assistant chief of police, Oeystein Berger. "If they have no tickets and come to make trouble we have enough police to deal with them and enough room in our jails. We are quite confident this will pass off without trouble."

The England coach, Terry Venables, said that the team wanted no repeat of Dublin or the scenes during the last visit to Oslo, for a World Cup qualifying match in June 1993. He added: "It just gives the whole nation a bad name and it is something we want no part of."

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