Rome braces itself for English fans’ invasion before Ukraine match

Rome has increased security at airports, tourist hotspots, bars and the Olympic Stadium as the Italian capital braces itself for the possible arrival of hundreds of English fans before England’s Euro 2020 quarter-final match against Ukraine on Saturday.

Upon Italy’s request, Uefa cancelled all tickets sold since Monday to England supporters resident in the UK over fears that people would attempt to flout the five-day coronavirus quarantine rule in place for travellers arriving from Britain.

Authorities are concerned that fans will travel to Rome all the same, with or without tickets.

Checks have been stepped up at Fiumicino airport, where five flights from the UK – four from London and one from Birmingham – were scheduled to arrive on Friday, and Ciampino airport, where two flights from London and one from Manchester were due.

As of early afternoon, Italian media reported that the only passengers “intercepted” had been families and journalists arriving to cover the match.

However, a source at Fiumicino said he had witnessed “drunk England fans, and some vomiting in the arrivals hall”.

The majority of England supporters at the Olympic Stadium, which can host a maximum of 16,000 spectators due to Covid-19 restrictions, are expected to be made up of English people living in Italy and other parts of Europe from where they can travel to Rome without needing to quarantine. Some fans have also travelled from Dubai, according to reports.

The Rome-based daily Il Messaggero said England fans were starting to arrive in Rome, complete with the trademark “beer in hand”. The newspaper quoted a bar owner saying he had served “four beers each” to one group of fans.

Police have also increased patrols at train stations, motorways and nightlife areas.

Italy reimposed the five-day quarantine on travellers from the UK in June due to the spread of the Delta variant in Britain. Both the UK and Italian government have warned fans not to travel from Britain.