Cops Ready For More World Cup Violence

A man wearing traditional Bavarian dress and hat celebrates with soccer fans downtown Munich, southern Germany, Friday, June 9, 2006. Munich hosts the opening match of the soccer world cup. (AP Photo/Uwe Lein)
AP Photo/Uwe Lein
Police from Britain and Germany were prepared for any possible fan violence Thursday ahead of England's game with Trinidad and Tobago, but said they were confident that the relative calm that reigned in Frankfurt will be present again.

Police in the city were bracing for any possible fan trouble after five days of soccer calm ended in a torrent of thrown bottles and chairs in Dortmund where Germany beat Poland 1-0 in a crucial World Cup game. More than 429 German and Polish hooligans were arrested in the city Wednesday, although only three are still in custody.

Of the 429 fans arrested Wednesday, 278 were German, 119 were Polish and the others came from other European countries that were not listed separately.

In Nuremberg, where an estimated 50,000 England fans are congregating for their team's second match, police said they were ready should any more disturbances arise.

"It's possible we will face the same thing," policeman Joachim Hagen said. "We have a strong force and we will keep a close watch."

Overnight, two England fans were arrested for assault and three other people were detained for throwing plastic bottles, but later released, British police said.

Assistant Chief Constable Stephen Thomas of the Greater Manchester Police, who is helping British police work with their German counterparts, said that overnight the city was calm as Germans celebrated their win by taking to the streets, cheering and drinking.

"I hope our players' rooms were soundproofed," he said, referring to the raucous cheering by German fans outside of the Grand Hotel, where England's players spent the night.

The hotel is also near an Irish bar where England fans have been congregating — and German police moved to prevent the two groups from coming into contact with each other.

While much of the focus was on the English, Dutch and Polish, it was homegrown fans behind Wednesday's worst single incident, accounting for 120 arrests.

Officers seeking to apprehend a group of known German hooligans came up against men throwing bottles and chairs and shooting fireworks, Dortmund police chief Hans Schulz said.

Several people were injured before the situation was brought under control. Schulz said 100 hooligans managed to flee.

"It was not a good atmosphere in Dortmund," he said.

"German fans are like England fans. They drink a lot, make a lot of noise and have their own party," Thomas said.

Since the tournament's June 9 start, Thomas said 46 British nationals have been arrested, part of the more than 1,500 people arrested across the country.

The threat of fan violence had been a major theme ahead of the monthlong soccer tournament. England's supporters were often cited as one potential danger.

At the 2000 European Championship, co-hosted by Belgium and the Netherlands, 945 Britons were arrested for soccer violence. The most severe rioting was in Charleroi and Brussels and led to European soccer administrators threatening England with expulsion from the tournament.

At the 1998 World Cup in France, German hooligans beat a French policeman nearly to death and England fans rioted in Marseille.

To head off trouble, authorities across Europe confiscated passports of known troublemakers, increased border patrols and drew up extensive policing plans for the dozen game cities.

Before that, tranquility in World Cup-hosting cities had allayed much of the fear over widespread hooliganism at soccer's biggest event and even surprised police who had braced for the worst.