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Euros fans fear repeat of crowd crushes waiting for trams

England fans described scenes of “absolute carnage” waiting for trams to and from the Gelsenkirchen stadium where the Three Lions beat Serbia in their Euros opener last night.

Supporters reported being stuck in huge queues with young children among those caught in potentially dangerous crushes as they spent hours getting home from the Arena AufSchalk after England’s 1-0 win.

The overcrowding happened as fans made their way from a viewing park set up for 40,000 England supporters at a racecourse four miles from the ground, as well as at full-time.

And there are fears of repeat scenes at the same stadium if England top Group C, with the ground due to host a last-16 match featuring the section’s winners on 30 June.

Jude Bellingham’s goal in England’s opening match got Gareth Southgate’s side off to a winning start, but fans were left rueing an organisational “shambles” off the pitch.

England fans described scenes of ?absolute carnage? waiting for trams to and from the Gelsenkirchen stadium where the Three Lions played Serbia last night. Supporters reported huge queues with families caught in dangerous crushes as they spent hours getting home from the Arena AufSchalk after England?s 1-0 win. Fans reported overcrowding as they made their way from a special fan park set up to 40,000 England fans at a racecourse in Gelsenkirchen as well as at full-time. And here are fears of repeat scenes at the stadium if England top Group C, with the ground due to host a last 16 match featuring the group?s winner?s on 30 June. Doug Pendse, 46, from Amersham, said it took two hours for him and his friends to walk the few hundred yards from their seats in the stadium to the tram at full-time Photos: Ben Wilkinson.
England fans waited hours to board trams to at full-time (Photo: Ben Wilkinson)

Doug Pendse, 46, from Amersham, Buckinghamshire, said it took two hours for him and his friends to walk the few hundred yards from their seats in the stadium to the tram at full-time.

He told i: “It was a bit of a disaster. Lots and lots of people trying to get to one little platform with tiny trams, infrequently. Not enough service, not enough space, lots of crushing.

“There was a similar level of disorganisation to get to the game as well. A lot of fans had been told that the trams were out of action. So lots of people were trying to walk.

“It was just completely, uncomfortably crushed. Nose to nose with other other people, really unpleasant. People having panics on the train because it was so busy.

“You’ve got dads and little kids. people who look like they’re 19/ 20 years old, first time away from home, spent their life savings on coming out to watch the football.

“There were a lot of nervous faces, lots of people really fed up.”

Mr Pendse hit out at a lack of coordination and information from UEFA despite the footballing authorities having years to plan for the tournament.

Jack Ash, 28 , from Milton Keynes described fans, including children, starting to get crushed and breathless while waiting for trams from the racecourse. He urged police on several occasions to open the gates at the station so people could leave and make their own way to the stadium as he waited with his mum, step father and brother. ?We were at the racetrack. We were told that it was only a 20-minute tram ride to the ground,? he said, ?When we left they had us penned in and weren?t allowing us to leave. A police officer in riot gear told me that one of the trams had broke and we needed to wait. Photo: Jack Ash
Jack Ash, 28 , urged police to open doors at an overcrowded tram station so fans could leave (Photo: Jack Ash)

And supporters who may have to return to the stadium if England top Group C were already discussing making alternative travel arrangements, he said, with some considering getting bikes to cycle to and from the ground.

“You had tens of thousands of people queuing for this one little tram station. Old people, families with little kids,” he said.

“There wasn’t really any kind of effort to help people. It was just just a massive scrum with tens of thousands of boozed-up football fans trying to get home, and just a huge crush for two hours.

“Some friends said, ‘We’ve got to be back here in a couple of weeks, potentially’ and so they are thinking about what they’re going to be able to do differently.”

Jack Ash, 28 , from Milton Keynes described fans, including children, starting to get crushed and breathless while waiting for trams from the racecourse. He urged police on several occasions to open the gates at the station so people could leave and make their own way to the stadium as he waited with his mum, step father and brother. ?We were at the racetrack. We were told that it was only a 20-minute tram ride to the ground,? he said, ?When we left they had us penned in and weren?t allowing us to leave. A police officer in riot gear told me that one of the trams had broke and we needed to wait. Photo: Jack Ash
England could be back playing at the same stadium in the round of 16 match, with fans concerned that there could be a repeat of the same travel problems (Photo: Jack Ash)

Jack Ash, 28, from Milton Keynes described fans including children starting to get crushed and breathless while waiting for trams from the racecourse.

He urged police on several occasions to open the gates at the station so people could leave and make their own way to the stadium as he waited with his mum, stepfather and brother.

“We were at the racetrack. We were told that it was only a 20-minute tram ride to the ground,” he said.

“When we left they had us penned in and weren’t allowing us to leave. A police officer in riot gear told me that one of the trams had broke and we needed to wait.

“The problem with that was more people were trying to leave and it was causing a huge amount of pressure with no room.

“I eventually convinced the German police and organisers to open the gates otherwise someone potentially could have passed away or have gotten seriously injured.”

Taxis were quoting them more than €100 to get to the ground, he said, adding the transport and organisation is the worst he had seen in 10 years following England.

After the match, he described queues to leave the stadium and board transport away from the ground at full-time as an “utter joke”.

“Kids were getting on their parents shoulders to get some fresh air. Getting into the trams kids were getting crushed as people were desperate to get onto the trams back to the city centre,” he said.

Jack Ash, 28 , from Milton Keynes described fans, including children, starting to get crushed and breathless while waiting for trams from the racecourse. He urged police on several occasions to open the gates at the station so people could leave and make their own way to the stadium as he waited with his mum, step father and brother. ?We were at the racetrack. We were told that it was only a 20-minute tram ride to the ground,? he said, ?When we left they had us penned in and weren?t allowing us to leave. A police officer in riot gear told me that one of the trams had broke and we needed to wait. Photo: Jack Ash
Supporters have hit out at a lack of organisation after the chaos in Gelsenkitchen (Photo: Jack Ash)

“It took just over two hours to get from the ground to the tram outside the stadium. Then a 6-km tram ride back to the city took over an hour.

“The station in the city centre was absolutely heaving with supporters.”

Their train back to Frankfurt, where they are staying, was delayed so they were able to board it despite arriving late because of the problems leaving the stadium.

But it was overcrowded with supporters who had missed their trains due to the chaos after the match.

“Once we were on the train they tried kicking people off as they weren’t happy with people sitting in the aisles,” he said.

“No one got off as obviously a lot were massively upset and tired and just wanted to get back. Ended up getting off the train at Frankfort at 4.45am, and then ended up getting in my hotel room at 5.02am.

“So just over six hours from when the game finished. Complete and utter shambles.”

He has already spent €1,500 travelling to Germany and is going to all of England’s group games, he said.

But even though the will have tickets if they play at the Gelsenkirchen again in the last-16 match he is having second thoughts about going.

“I actually said to my mum last night I would consider selling my ticket if it’s going to be the same fiasco as last night,” he added.

One England fans’ group – the Free Lions Fan Embassy – has called for an urgent and thorough review of transport arrangements after the chaotic scenes, saying said “dramatically enhanced provisions” would need to be put in place before 30 June.

“There is a very real prospect that England could return to this venue for the Round of 16 on 30 June – another Sunday evening fixture,” the group said in a statement.

“Although kick-off on that occasion would be at 6pm, there would also be the possibility of extra-time and penalties, and another late departure in darkness.

“It is clear to us that an urgent and thorough review of arrangements is needed before that event, with lessons learnt and dramatically enhanced provisions put in place. The initial defensive response of authorities locally suggests a complacency out of sync with what was required.”

UEFA and the Gelsenkirchen Police were contacted for comment.

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