Euro 2016: Police hope NI and Wales game will be ‘Celtic carnival’

Northern fans scramble to make way to Paris for big last 16 game at Parc des Princes

Arlene Foster: tweeted  “Well done Rep of Ireland. My goodness what a result!”  Photograph: Eric Luke

Arlene Foster: tweeted “Well done Rep of Ireland. My goodness what a result!” Photograph: Eric Luke

 

The officer in charge of monitoring Northern Ireland fans at Euro 2016 has praised their behaviour as some 15,000 of them prepare for the showdown against Wales in Paris tomorrow evening.

PSNI Supt Nigel Goddard said the “real story is how Northern Ireland fans have been taken to by everybody else in the tournament”.

Supt Goddard, who is leading a team of PSNI officers in assisting French police at Euro 2016, said it was not clear how many tickets were allocated to each set of supporters for tomorrow evening’s game. He expected, however, that “by hook or by crook” there will be 12,000-15,000 Northern Ireland fans making a lot of noise at the Parc des Princes.

Many of these supporters are experiencing problems funding the trip from Northern Ireland to Paris, according to Gary McAllister, who is the chairman of the Amalgamation of Official Northern Ireland Supporters’ Clubs.

Mr McAllister said that direct flights to Paris were costing about €500. “But Northern Ireland people are very resourceful,” he said. “A lot of them are taking different options such as flying into Belgium, Switzerland, Germany and Spain and then moving on to Paris.”

Mr McAllister and Supt Goddard also referred to the parade of several thousand Northern Ireland and German fans from the Eiffel Tower to Parc des Princes for Tuesday evening’s game. Mr McAllister said consideration was being given to holding another parade but no firm decision has yet been taken.

The officer added that on Tuesday night, the Parc des Princes stadium manager and the senior French police officer said “they had never seen anything like the crowd support for their team” from the Northern Ireland supporters – even though they lost to Germany.

“The crowd remained in the stadium for 30 minutes afterwards almost en masse singing that Will Grigg’s on fire number despite the fact the guy has not kicked a ball during the tournament,” said Supt Goddard.

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“Aside from that it has been a fabulous success story from a policing aspect with the Northern Ireland supporters,” said Supt Goddard.

He added that the hope and anticipation was that the game against Wales at 5pm tomorrow would conclude equally as joyously, whatever the result. “We are not expecting any issues between the Northern Irish and Welsh. In fact we would expect the game to be a sort of Celtic carnival,” said Supt Goddard.

The North’s First Minister, Arlene Foster, congratulated the Republic on its qualification for the last 16. “Well done Rep of Ireland. My goodness what a result!” she tweeted.