Record number of troublemakers banned from Euro 2004

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The Independent Football

Record numbers of football troublemakers will be banned from travelling to Portugal this summer for Euro 2004, the Home Office said today.

Record numbers of football troublemakers will be banned from travelling to Portugal this summer for Euro 2004, the Home Office said today.

A total of 2,188 people are currently banned from going to domestic or international football matches, Home Office minister Caroline Flint said.

She said any other fans who had previously caused trouble and were felt by police to pose a continuing risk could also be prevented from leaving the UK or entering Portugal. Ms Flint said only 100 for Euro 2000 in Belgium and the Netherlands.

The head of the English police team for Euro 2004, Staffordshire Police deputy chief constable David Swift, said that in addition to the 2,188 people banned, another 500 were going through the courts and would be prevented from travelling.

He said: "I know there are 500 people going through the criminal justice system and every one of those individuals has bail conditions which mean they are not allowed to leave the country."

Ms Flint said at least 50,000 England fans were expected to travel and their numbers would be supplemented by 200,000 football-loving English people holidaying or living in Portugal and Spain.

"Any minor alcohol-fuelled incident will be described as football hooliganism. In Spain every summer the police arrest and detain more than 2,000 UK citizens for this type of behaviour.

"It would be unduly optimistic to think there will be no incidents of this kind during Euro 2004."

She said: "There will be an extensive police ports operation prior to the tournament to identify any potential troublemakers and the Portuguese have made clear that anyone else who is known to pose a risk to public order will be denied entry.

"We believe we've done everything we can to ensure a safe and enjoyable tournament. We have pulled out all the stops to prevent hooligans from travelling to Portugal. Everyone involved wants it to be a genuine festival of football."

Portuguese authorities are restoring border controls they scrapped in 1991, bringing back passport checks and vehicle searches and they have strengthened security at key transport hubs.

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