Southgate expects ‘everybody to enjoy’ England’s opening Euros match despite security concerns

Gareth Southgate has said he “expects everybody to enjoy the football” when asked about the heightened security risk of England’s opening Euros match against Serbia.

The England manager was responding to a question at a pre-match news conference on Saturday about the decision to ramp up security measures for Sunday’s game in Gelsenkirchen.

Asked for his message to supporters, he said: “I expect everybody to enjoy the football.

“I’ve been fortunate to be involved in a lot of tournaments, and travel to tournaments I’ve not been directly involved in.

“They’re great carnivals of football – an opportunity to see a different part of the world and meet people from other parts of the world, have a brilliant time, so I’m sure everybody is coming to do that.”

He added: “I hope the whole of Europe can come together for the brilliant game that we’re involved in and support their team.”

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England-Serbia match ‘high risk’

Officials have designated England’s opening fixture as a “high-risk” event, with fans served lower-alcohol beer in the stadium and banned from drinking in the stands.

More than 300,000 British fans are travelling to Germany for Euro 2024, making it their highest attendance since Euro 2016 in France.

Policing the first game has been made more challenging by UEFA asking for the barriers to be removed inside the stadium, with both sides being seated closer together, and two-thirds of tickets going to mixed areas.

German police Chief Inspector Christof Burghardt told Sky News previously: “I think it’s a very high-risk game because of the history, because of the hooligans both sides have.

“Serbia has many hooligans. The English guys, with alcohol, they are sometimes very aggressive. So it’s a great job to do this, to prepare, so that hopefully nothing will happen.”

Gareth Southgate and Harry Kane. Pic: Reuters
Gareth Southgate and Harry Kane. Pic: Reuters

Footballing deaths a ‘great shock’

At the joint news conference with captain Harry Kane on Saturday, Southgate was also asked about the deaths announced today of two footballing figures – former Arsenal and Everton star Kevin Campell and Millwall and Montenegro goalkeeper Matija Sarkic.

Southgate said “both pieces of news were received with shock and great sadness”, acknowledging that the England players who have played with Sarkic are “feeling that even more”.

Millwall goalkeeper Matija Sarkic after the final whistle of the Sky Bet Championship match at Ashton Gate 
Pic: PA
Matija Sarkic. Pic: PA

He recalled playing with Campbell, who died aged 54, at Arsenal, describing him as a “hugely popular man”.

“Kevin was the same age as me… his son has been in our junior pathway as well. Our thoughts are very much with his family at this time,” he said.

Ex Everton and Arsenal player Kevin Campbell during the Premier League match at Goodison Park, Liverpool.
Pic: PA
Kevin Campbell. Pic: PA

Both men said they are expecting Sunday’s game to be a challenge.

Kane told reporters: “We’re expecting a really tough game tomorrow night.”

Southgate added: “There are a lot of good teams in this tournament and we have to be exceptional to progress, firstly through the group, and then to have the opportunity to go further.”

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