Police try to reassure fans ahead of England's Wembley clash after Belgium attack

Scotland Yard promises high-visibility presence at match after murder of two Swedish football supporters in Brussels

England are due to play Italy at Wembley stadium in north London on Tuesday night.  AFP
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British police have moved to reassure football fans heading to England's Wembley clash with Italy following a terror attack in Belgium which left two dead.

England face Italy in the Euro 2024 qualifier on Tuesday night, less than 24 hours after two Swedish fans were murdered in Brussels ahead of their team's match against Belgium.

Scotland Yard said there will be a “robust, high-visibility” police presence at the London game.

“There is a robust policing plan in place for the Euro 2024 qualifier between England and Italy at Wembley this evening, building on our shared experience with trusted partners in policing these high-profile matches and to ensure those attending the match can enjoy the sporting occasion,” the force said in a statement.

“Given the events yesterday in Brussels, those attending the match can be reassured that they will see a highly visible policing presence. Officers are there to ensure the event passes off safely and provide reassurance to those attending.”

It comes after Belgian police shot and killed a 45-year-old Tunisian man suspected of gunning down two Swedish football fans in what authorities described as a “terrorist attack”.

Belgium's qualifier was abandoned at half-time after the killings, and the crowd was instructed to stay inside the stadium, before being evacuated.

Superintendent Gerry Parker, who will be the match commander for the England game, said: “We have been working with our partners, including the FA, in the weeks leading up to this match to ensure those attending the Wembley area enjoy this match.”

“Our officers are experienced in dealing with large-scale public order events, and a flexible plan is in place to reduce the likelihood of crime and disorder, and provide a timely response to any emerging incidents.

“Please ensure you arrive in good time for the match and remain vigilant throughout; if you see anything suspicious then flag it an officer or one of the match stewards immediately so the necessary action can be taken.”

Scotland will also face France in Lille on Tuesday.

Ahead of the game, French President Emmanuel Macron said that “all European states are vulnerable … there is a return of this Islamist terrorism”.

“We all have a vulnerability. It's what comes with being a democracy, a rule-of-law state where there are individuals who can decide at a given moment to commit the worst acts.”

His comments come after a teacher was stabbed to death in Arras, northern France, in a terror incident on October 14.

Mr Macron said had seen “no failures” by French security services before the stabbing at a high school.

Updated: October 17, 2023, 2:59 PM