UK & World News
World Cup Warning To Fans Over Argentine Gangs
England fans travelling to the World Cup have been warned to avoid protests and beware the threat of gangs of Argentine hooligans which are thought to be targeting the tournament.
The estimated 5,000 England fans who are expected to travel to Brazil will be accompanied by a small team of British police officers who will advise the local authorities.
The UK Football Policing Unit has identified several areas of concern, including the possible presence of gangs of Argentine fans at the tournament.
The Brazilian authorities also view the gangs as a threat and British officers will try to ensure there is no overlap between them and England fans.
Deputy Chief Constable Andy Holt, of South Yorkshire Police, said: "The Brazilians are quite worried about groups and gangs coming across from Argentina, and that some of those engaged in disorder who follow Argentine football might come across.
"We'll be mindful of any crossover between troublesome Argentine supporters (and England fans) because the last thing we want is any confrontation ... given our shared history.
"It might be an area for some issues."
When British police first started attending overseas tournaments it was to help combat hooligans.
Improvements in the atmosphere around the England team means the focus is now on ensuring fans come home safely.
The tasks facing the six-strong team of British officers will be to ensure England fans avoid trouble and are policed "on their current behaviour, rather than on their reputation of 20 years ago".
Crime, the significant Brazilian protest movement and the threat of road traffic accidents are among the areas police say fans should be aware of.
Four officers in uniform will act as "spotters" at England games, helping interpret the behaviour of fans for the Brazilian authorities.
They will have no statutory powers, although DCC Holt said they can be a reassuring presence for supporters.
"We'll be a sort of 'cultural interpreter' for the local police," he said.
"We can say that just because our fans are jumping up and down and getting excited, it doesn't mean it's a precursor to a riot.
"Conversely, if fans are getting rowdy in a bar, perhaps we can send a couple of officers over to calm them down.
"We tend to be well received abroad if we're helping them avoid a night in the cells.
"My personal experience is that England fans abroad are appreciative of seeing a British police officer."
Police will also mount a domestic operation, with more than 2,300 people convicted of football disorder required to hand in their passports for the duration of the tournament.
Local forces will be on alert for disorder around England's games and will also take account of overseas communities that might be marking their teams' games in the World Cup.
During Euro 2012, Lincolnshire Police were caught by surprise by issues arising from the local Polish community celebrating their team's matches and officers are keen to avoid a repeat.
DCC Holt also warned domestic violence can increase during major football tournaments.
He wants forces to ensure they are able to offer an appropriate response.