Police to withhold passports of 1,000 English hooligans before World Cup

By Ian Burrell,Home Affairs Correspondent
Tuesday 15 April 2014 03:12

Almost 1,000 known hooligans will be required to surrender their passports five days ahead of England's first game at this summer's World Cup in Japan and South Korea.

Passports belonging to 932 fans will not be returned until the end of the tournament under legislation brought in to prevent trouble abroad. Other England fans who have not received banning orders but have been convicted of football-related offences may be turned away from Japan because their names have been provided to the authorities.

The hardline approach was announced by the Home Office minister John Denham yesterday as he spoke of his concern that Japanese television has been repeatedly screening images of English football violence from the early Nineties.

Mr Denham said Japan had become gripped by "the spectre of English hooligans" and that he had attempted to reassure Japanese authorities that England football fans attending the World Cup would be "genuine football supporters".

The minister, who recently returned from a week's visit to Japan, was outlining a package of security measures aimed at minimising the risk of trouble. He said that the repeated footage of football violence by England fans had reinforced an impression that they only travelled overseas with the intention of causing "mayhem".

More than 8,000 England fans are expected to attend the tournament in June and Japanese police have been practising with net guns and other advanced equipment.

Mr Denham, who visited the three stadia where England will play, said: "I was able to assure people that the fans that go from England will be genuine football supporters who will want to enjoy the football and enjoy visiting Japan."

The minister revealed that England supporters were likely to be allowed to consume alcohol while watching games, despite problems with drunken fans at previous tournaments.

Japanese police recently visited Britain to observe the policing of England's friendly match with Italy. Mr Denham also announced that the British embassy in Japan would provide a translation and advice service for fans.