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England play match against Italy with just 2,000 children in attendance due to Euro final chaos

England play match against Italy with just 2,000 children and their guardians in attendance due to Euro final chaos… as kids spark hilarious response on social media by chanting ‘who are ya!’ at the reigning European champions

  • England versus Italy at Molineux is taking place largely behind closed doors
  • Boss Gareth Southgate said it was an ’embarassment’ for the country 
  • The FA were sanctioned following the crowd trouble before Euro 2020 final 
  • But UEFA rules allow children to attend behind-closed-doors matches for free 

England and Italy have been greeted by a crowd of around 2,000 children for their Nations League clash at Molineux owing to sanctions imposed on the hosts for the crowd trouble that marred the Euro 2020 final between the two countries.

Players arrived to an eerily-quiet stadium, with only shouts and chants from the children and their guardians punctuating the silence to create an atmosphere akin to a charity match.

There was a humorous moment before kick-off as those inside the venue chanted ‘who are ya’ at reigning European champions Italy.

The Football Association was hit with a two-match ban, with one suspended, following the behaviour of fans ahead of the Wembley defeat to Italy in the final last summer.

Under UEFA rules, however, school children are allowed free admission to fixtures played behind closed doors. 

The lack of a crowd for a fixture that would have attracted a full house was a hot topic of conversation on social media.

Around 2,000 children and their guardians are in the crowd for England's match with Italy

Around 2,000 children and their guardians are in the crowd for England’s match with Italy

Molineux is empty save for the children, who are allowed to attend behind-closed-doors games

Molineux is empty save for the children, who are allowed to attend behind-closed-doors games

‘Might have to watch this England game with the sound off, crowd full of kids sounds like a Saturday morning in the local swimming pool,’ said one Twitter user.

Another added: ‘Just turned on the England game and there are somehow less people in the crowd than on the pitch it seems.’

A third Twitter account called for the return of the fake crowd noise that was used when Premier League matches were played behind closed doors following the restart during the Covid-19 pandemic. ‘Can we have the fake crowd noise back please?’ they said.

Fans reacted to the children in the crowd on social media before and during the game

Fans reacted to the children in the crowd on social media before and during the game

‘Imagine just getting booed by a crowd of school children,’ a fourth said.

A fifth Twitter user poked fun at the high-profile match being held in front of a crowd mainly consisting of children.

‘All these school kids in the crowd for the England / Italy game. I’m half expecting Southgate to shout into the crowd ‘who’s chewing? Spit it into the bin,’ they said.

The young crowd made a decent noise and jokingly goaded Italy before the match kicked off

The young crowd made a decent noise and jokingly goaded Italy before the match kicked off

England manager Gareth Southgate admitted this week that having to play the game against Italy in a near-empty stadium was an ’embarrassment’ for the country.

‘A lot of the people that caused the problems I’m not certain were football fans. We spoke enough about it, we spoke about it after the final and when the punishment was first given,’ said Southgate.

‘What I will say is the vast majority of our fans who travelled to Germany behaved brilliantly. A big thank you to them because maybe people were thinking something different but there were a huge majority who were a credit.’ 

The Three Lions were hit with a two-match ban over crowd trouble at the Euro 2020 final

The Three Lions were hit with a two-match ban over crowd trouble at the Euro 2020 final

Supporters barged their way through barrier and many of them made their way inside the stadium to watch the Italy game without a ticket

Supporters barged their way through barrier and many of them made their way inside the stadium to watch the Italy game without a ticket

Around 33,000 were in attendance when England were beaten 1-0 by Hungary in a Nations League match Budapest last Saturday, despite the home side being forced to stage the fixture behind closed doors as punishment for racist and homophobic chants at Euro 2020.

The crowd, made up of children and their guardians, caused controversy as they booed England players when they took the knee.

The country’s FA took advantage of a loophole in UEFA regulations, which allowed 30,000 children in to watch the match for free accompanied by 3,000 adults. 


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