England fan who entered team dressing room facing trial


An England fan charged with breaching stadium security to enter the team's dressing room in South Africa will stand trial on Friday.

Pavlos Joseph, 32, from south-east London, walked in on the players after their 0-0 draw with Algeria last Friday at Cape Town's Green Point stadium.

He claims he was looking for a toilet, but used the encounter to tell David Beckham the game had been "a disgrace".

Mr Joseph will remain on bail, but is banned from Wednesday's England match.

His lawyer Steven Barker told the AFP news agency the prosecution wanted to proceed with the matter on Monday, but Mr Joseph was not willing to plead guilty and his legal team was not ready to proceed with their defence.

Brigadier Sally de Beer, spokeswoman for the South African Police Service, said: "The case was adjourned to Friday for plea and trial. Conditions remain the same."

Since the incident, South African police have revised security procedures at all stadiums.

CCTV footage

On Sunday, Mr Joseph was charged at Cape Town Magistrates' Court with offences relating to stadium security before being released on 500 rand (£50) bail.

He was also banned from attending matches while he awaits trial, and had his passport taken away.

Police had earlier arrested him at the Bay Hotel in Camps Bay, Cape Town, on suspicion of trespassing.

He had been identified using stadium CCTV footage, a police statement said.

"The charge relates to the man's appearance in the English team's change room after the World Cup match between England and Algeria on Friday night," it added.

Mortgage adviser Mr Joseph, who has no previous convictions, said he had been waiting outside the stadium for his two cousins and their father after the game.

After half an hour he decided to find a toilet, and said he was pointed in the direction of the players' tunnel by a steward.

While wandering about the tunnel, he said, he suddenly found himself in the England dressing room.

David Beckham, who is injured but with the squad as part of the backroom staff, was standing in front of him, he said.

"I wanted to make the most of this opportunity to tell him how frustrated us, his fans, are," Mr Joseph told the newspaper.

"I said to him 'David, we've spent a lot of money coming out here. That was a disgrace and what are you going to do about it?'

"He looked at me in surprise and stunned. He didn't know what to say.

'No guards'

"As he was about to say 'Who are you?' one of the Fifa officials came towards me and asked me that question. All the players were looking at each other and looking at myself.

"I said 'My name's Pavlos and I'm just looking for a toilet'."

Mr Joseph said the Fifa official took him to the nearest toilet, which was in the main building of the ground in the public area, and that the two later exchanged business cards.

"I said to him 'That atmosphere in the dressing room was shocking'. And he said to me 'You should have been in there at half-time', Mr Joseph added.

"No security guards at any point... had questioned me, stopped me or even attempted to arrest me."

The BBC's Karen Allen, in Johannesburg, said: "It appears he managed to breach three security points without official accreditation before he was finally intercepted."

Provincial police spokesman Col Billy Jones has said police are investigating why he was not handed over to officers.

Mr Joseph's sister Sylvia Higgins told the Daily Mail: "He's been made a scapegoat by the South African police. We won't stop fighting until we get him out of there.

"Pavlos shouldn't be standing before court - he didn't do anything that bad. This has got completely out of hand now."

David Beckham had earlier said the fan he spoke to "didn't comment on the performance, he walked in, said 'hello'."

The former England captain said: "The actual fan literally just walked in very casually and just said something to me and then walked out - there was no scuffle, there was no aggression at all."

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