Burglars break into English football's HQ

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The Independent Football

England's football defences have been breached again. But this time the Football Association is laying the blame not at the feet of nimble Dutchmen but burglars.

Thieves sneaked past tight security at the FA's headquarters in Soho Square, central London, in the early hours yesterday to make off with office equipment. According to Scotland Yard, the burglars used the criminal world's equivalent of making a crafty run down the wing to get at goal by entering the building via "a neighbouring premises".

Replica England shirts and kit and computer chips were reportedly stolen. The FA was confident that no sensitive or confidential information was taken or copied but, given the potentially embarrassing nature of several FA investigations, and the security of England personnel and players, the burglary has left red faces and a number of unanswered questions. There was no immediate explanation last night why computer equipment had been taken, or why the FA, rather than the neighbouring premises, had been attacked. No arrests have been made.

* A record number of banning orders have been issued to prevent England football soccer hooligans reaching Munich for this weekend's crucial World Cup qualifier, the authorities announced yesterday. The 537 England supporters – most of whom have convictions for hooliganism – received letters last week ordering them to hand in their passports. Security officials hope the removal of England's worst troublemakers will reduce the danger of violence at what they admit is a "high risk" fixture.

The figure represents an increase of more than 80 on the last big international match.

A number of plain-clothes officers are travelling to Germany to help police there to identify known offenders.