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'I was depressed for my country' | Matt Slater on Wembley debacle

Journalist Matt Slater believes that the scenes at Wembley prior to the Euro 2020 final made him ...



Soccer

'I was depressed for my country' | Matt Slater on Wembley debacle


Journalist Matt Slater believes that the scenes at Wembley prior to the Euro 2020 final made him 'depressed' for England.

Slater painted a grim personal picture, one reflected in the moods of a lot of England fans, over and above the result.

"I was pretty upset about losing on penalties, but by yesterday afternoon I was pretty upset and despondent by my country, to the point where I wouldn't want a World Cup, I'm not sure we deserve it," Slater said.

"I'm frightened we'll end up humiliating ourselves."

'Wembley is a soft touch'

Slater believes that the stage was set earlier in the tournament as word travelled that Wembley was easily 'rushed', helped by the COVID capacities.

"The new Wembley has a reputation for being a soft touch, that is something that has probably been under-reported. That is something we have not discussed enough," said Slater.

"Sunday started on Wednesday, it started with Denmark. Hundreds got into that game, and word got around, it got around on social media and WhatsApp groups. I suppose there was something quite unique about the circumstances.

"Stewards, FA and Wembley staff ordinarily will say that at any event, just as you will on the tube, you will get people getting in through 'tailgating' [coming in with another person with a ticket through one turnstile].

"What you tend to do then is tend to have a second line of defence, you grab them and you throw them out. Normally at Wembley that's pretty easy because it's a sell-out - where are they going to sit?

"You had 45,000 empty seats at Denmark and 30,000 - in theory - at Germany. Word got round that if you get in you'll be OK."

'What are we doing?'

Slater believes that the activities on Wembley Way descended from banter-driven behaviour to outright criminality.

"There's a fine line in big crowds, a stag do-type mentality. When football gets it right, it's funny if you're in it and involved in it. You think you're funny.

"I'm not a saint and I don't want sanitised football, but 100% of the people I've spoken to are saying 'no, that was different, it was not funny.' It was nearly funny but then it had an edge.

"Why are people throwing bottles around and traffic cones at 1pm? Why are they kicking that window? Why are they tipping over that portaloo? What are we doing?

"Why are we racially abusing stewards? Why are we fighting each other at 2 in the afternoon? What is going on? Is this funny? It doesn't seem funny, it feels like loutism."

Football on Off The Ball, with Paddy Power’s SaveOurGame, Donating 10k to Irish football for every goal England score at the Euros.

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