England fans flood into Germany
- 30 Jun 06, 03:33 PM
GELSENKIRCHEN - The Germans call it “a phenomenon”.
They’re left scratching their heads at how so many English people make it here for the match one day but are gone the next.
Incidentally, out of 5,800 people arrested in the tournament so far, guess how many have been English?
A crowd of 70,000 England fans are expected in Schalke 04’s home town on Saturday. The Portuguese will be here in one-tenth of those numbers.
“Nobody can really tell where they come from, how they arrive in such a short period of time and where they disappear to so quickly,” puzzled the Gelsenkirchen police commander at Friday’s press conference.
They’re mostly coming tomorrow, led by the 13,000 who have managed to get tickets for the ground.
The ferries across the channel are full, trains busy, flights booked out.
Because England’s travelling support is the largest, a second fan fest viewing area has been set up in Gelsenkirchen. Germany makes much of welcoming everyone, ticket or no ticket, to join the World Cup party. If you’re watching at home – there’s still time.
It’s in a novel location, the “trotting track”, for horse and cart racing, outside the centre. Rumour is the big screen had to be imported from eastern Europe as Germany has finally run out.
For the record, Assistant Chief Constable, Stephen Thomas -who's in charge of the British police operation in Germany - gave this update on arrest figures today.
So far back in England, we have now 3,829 people banned from leaving the UK - to travel to Germany. Of the fans that have travelled we've now, in the venue cities alone, had 235,000 English supporters attend on game days, we've had many more attend the rest of Germany, and many more indeed in the countries around Germany. I still can't work out why I'd want to go to Prague - because the World Cup's in Germany - but 12,000 English people seem to have made that decision. Out of the 5,800 arrests so far during the tournament, there have been 593 English people arrested. 71 of them for criminal offences, and 522 for preventative detention - which for us in the UK is a very strange thing, but my German colleagues use it very well in order to prevent problems that are occuring. Five English people have been sentenced so far in the German courts - and seven are still in custody awaiting the trial.
Finally, before I go... navel gazing is no way for a journalist to tell a story, but one thing here is illustrative.
The well-equipped media centres we were privileged to use in Stuttgart and Cologne are replaced in smaller Gelsenkirchen by a trestle table in a field with “Press Centre” printed on some A4 paper and stuck on the front.
It’s not brilliant, but like England in the tournament so far, just as long as it’s capable of doing the job….