England fans held over 'forged dollars'

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The Independent Online

Three English football fans were arrested by Japanese police yesterday for allegedly using forged US dollars, the first arrests for serious crimes so far during the World Cup.

Three English football fans were arrested by Japanese police yesterday for allegedly using forged US dollars, the first arrests for serious crimes so far during the World Cup.

According to a police spokesman in the northern city of Sapporo, where England play Argentina tomorrow, the men used several $50 notes to pay for a meal on Tuesday night. An employee of the restaurant noticed that two of the banknotes had the same serial number and called police, who took the men in for voluntary questioning. They were held overnight and formally arrested yesterday afternoon.

They were named as Mark Morris, 40, unemployed; Eamonn Anthony Payne, 34, a building site supervisor; and Stephen Peter Rimmer, 43, a construction worker. Their home towns were not given.

A British consular official visited them yesterday.

The police spokesman said dozens of $50 notes had been found at the men's hotel. "We are checking to see whether the notes are forged," the spokesman said. The men do not appear on any hooligan lists, he added. More than 1,000 people judged by the Home Office to be potential hooligans have had their passports impounded for the duration of the World Cup, and 33 more have been turned back in South Korea and Japan.

The arrested men told police they had arrived in Japan on 28 May and had been among the 8,000 England fans at the game against Sweden in Saitama on Sunday.

Over the past three days, the England followers have been arriving by train and plane in Sapporo, the capital of Hokkaido, the northernmost of Japan's main islands.

More than 8,000 police are on duty in Sapporo, many concentrated around the stadium and the Susukino area of bars where the three men were apprehended. Some bar owners are refusing to serve foreigners or are closing down on Friday.

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