England fans ready to cheer on team

England fans ready to cheer on team

England fans talk to English police at the Golden Lion in Donetsk, Ukraine

A sticker saying 'We wait for the Euros' showing a riot police scene that has been placed in Donetsk, Ukraine

First published in National News © by

England's army of travelling football supporters have arrived in Donetsk, cautiously optimistic that their side will overcome Ukraine to reach the quarter-finals of Euro 2012.

Around 4,000 fans will cheer on the Three Lions at the Donbass Arena, but they will be vastly outnumbered by a passionate home crowd.

Tournament co-hosts Ukraine require a victory to reach the knock-out stage of the competition, whereas Roy Hodgson's side will progress with just a draw.

Stickers threatening violence against fans have been posted in the city by supporters of club team Shakhtar Donetsk. One showing a scene involving riot police and carrying the slogan "We wait for the Euros" was displayed near the scene where a British policeman on holiday was attacked before England's opening game in Donetsk.

Some supporters are not wearing their England colours for safety reasons, but there was a friendly pre-match atmosphere as yellow-shirted home fans mixed with the travelling fans in the bars on Artema Street and Pushkin Boulevard.

The weather was hot and sunny, in stark contrast to the stormy conditions which delayed the game between Ukraine and France at the same venue on Friday.

Some 18 British police officers are in Ukraine in a bid to reduce the likelihood of disorder off the pitch. Assistant Chief Constable Andy Holt, of the Association of Chief Police Officers, has met his Ukrainian counterparts as efforts to ensure fans' safety were stepped up.

"We always knew that if England end up in the last game of the group stage playing Ukraine and both need something out of the game it would be a very tense atmosphere," he said.

Meanwhile, a Foreign Office minister has sought to justify the UK's partial boycott of Euro 2012 matches over human rights concerns by claiming England were unlikely to make the final.

Jeremy Browne said "history suggests" the team will not make the latter stages of the tournament. And he disclosed that British ambassador in Kiev Leigh Turner has attended matches despite the Westminster Government's decision to stay away.


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