Police search for irate dressing-room fan

By Joe Sinclair,Press Association
Sunday 23 October 2011 08:01

South African police were today searching for an irate England fan who barged his way into the team's dressing room last night but was let free before he could be arrested.

The man vented his anger at England's poor performance during their 0-0 draw with Algeria at the Green Point Stadium in Cape Town before he was hustled away by a Fifa official.

The incident came within minutes of Princes William and Harry, who attended the match, leaving the scene. A number of players and backroom staff, including David Beckham, were present.

Provincial police spokesman Colonel Billy Jones said the man, who was wearing a red T-shirt, was now wanted for trespassing.

He said police were investigating why he was not handed over to officers, in which case he would have been arrested.

Col Jones said: "Somebody who is believed to be an England supporter managed to get into the changing room of the England team.

"There is no report he engaged with any of the team members.

"He was removed from the dressing room by one of the Fifa officials.

"At this stage we are consulting with all the security agents that were present and will be looking at all the available surveillance footage to establish how this person got in.

"He has not been arrested."

Asked why the Fifa official did not apprehend the man and hand him over to police, Colonel Jones said: "That will form part of our investigation - why police were not informed at the time.

"We have opened a case of trespassing against him after the Fifa security was breached."

He said police would now be looking at how to improve security at the stadium, adding: "We will assess the situation and apply our minds to the way forward."

He continued: "The indication is that the person was wearing a red T-shirt and was therefore an England spectator."

The Football Association will demand security is tightened following the breach.

An FA spokesman said: "A fan got in past Fifa security.

"We have formally complained to Fifa after the game and will follow it up in writing.

"This is not acceptable and thankfully no serious harm was done."

The South African Police Service (SAPS) said in a statement: "At approximately 11.15pm an unauthorised individual entered the changing room of the English soccer team at the Cape Town Stadium after the match; he was escorted from the premises by a member of Fifa.

"An inquiry into the circumstances of the incident is now being investigated by SAPS.

"CCTV footage is being examined as part of the investigation, and all security personnel will be questioned to shed light on the matter."

Fifa described the breach of security as "totally unacceptable".

But spokesman Nicolas Maingot said the world governing body was not prepared to lay blame until the matter was further investigated.

He said: "It is of course totally unacceptable for Fifa that a fan finds his way up into a dressing room of any participating team at any Fifa competition."

Mr Maingot said security would be tightened to ensure such an incident was not repeated.

He said: "As you certainly know, there are daily meetings about security as usual, featuring Fifa, the LOC (Local Organising Committee) and the police.

"This has of course been discussed this morning.

"We are awaiting the details of the case from the police. Of course, security will be tightened so that this never happens again."

Jermaine Craig, the LOC media manager, said there were no additional security measures for the game despite the presence of the princes.

He said: "The security measures were the same as they were at all Fifa events.

"We had the England team playing in Rustenburg, so the security would have been the same as that."

He said the fan posed no physical threat to the players, adding: "The fan was there for a matter of seconds and very quickly escorted out of the dressing room by an OC personnel, so there was no physical threat towards the team.

"It shouldn't have happened and we're not happy about it. But from our side, the police are investigating what happened.

"They are studying CCTV footage at the moment and will compile a report on how it happened and ensure it won't happen again.

"The safety of players and fans are of paramount importance to us."

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