Munich prepares itself for World Cup qualifier

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The Independent Online

Germany's beer capital is bracing itself for a weekend of heavy drinking and the threat of violence as thousands of football fans flood in to Munich for today's crucial World Cup qualifying match.

Germany's beer capital is bracing itself for a weekend of heavy drinking and violence as thousands of football fans flood in to Munich for today's crucial World Cup qualifying match.

Many of the 10,000 England supporters expected for the game spent yesterday familiarising themselves with the city's numerous watering holes. Tensions rose late into the night after England supporters were expelled from the cities' most celebrated beer hall, the Hofbrauhaus. Police made several arrests.

As groups of rival fans milled round the city centre the noisy banter began to degenerate into violence. Six German youths confronted two Londoners, with one German and one English fan being carried away in an ambulance, bleeding profusely, after falling through a shop window together.

News that troublemakers had been detained at ports and airports, under the Football (Disorder) Act, cheered the authorities in Munich, but the chief of police operations, Josef Strasser, predicted that at least 1,000 of their own hooligans would try to cause trouble before the game.

In Folkestone, Kent, 20 suspected hooligans were intercepted en route to the Channel Tunnel and put before magistrates to be banned for future games.

Police said they had been found with illegal drugs, a lock-knife and a piece of wood embedded with a razor blade.

At Manchester airport, three known troublemakers attempting to beat the ban were detained by police. Nine fans, men aged between 29 and 41, were stopped at Birminghamairport. Another three were detained at Stansted airport in Essex.

Detectives from the National Criminal Intelligence Service said they were quietly confident that the match could be trouble-free. "Without wishing to tempt fate, we believe there is a good chance of the game passing off without serious incident," said one source at the NCIS.

"We have done everything we could to prevent known troublemakers from travelling to the match."

England, under manager Sven Goran Eriksson, need to beat Germany at the 67,000-capacity home of European champions Bayern Munich to overtake their hosts at the head of Group Nine and steal the automatic qualification spot for the 2002 World Cup.

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