Police defend actions after England fans attacked in Sao Paulo

Local police have defended their actions after England fans were subjected to a violent attack in the city prior to Thursday's game with Uruguay
By Neil Barker in Sao Paulo

The Sao Paulo Military Police have denied they offered insufficient protection to England fans attacked in the city on Thursday.

Fifteen Brazilians were arrested following an incident just outside the fan fest in which an explosive was thrown at a group of England supporters ahead of the World Cup clash between Roy Hodgson’s side and Uruguay.

Following conflicting statements on injuries, the military police claimed there was “no official information”.

A statement from the British Consulate, however, stated: “We are aware of an incident affecting fans around the area of the Fan Festival in Sao Paulo.

"We are working with the local authorities to establish the facts. No British nationals are believed to have been injured."

England fans at the scene were quick to condemn the police but Lieutenant Alexandre Martins insisted they had acted appropriately.

He said in a statement: “We have more than 600 policemen working on this site at the moment. So it’s highly unlikely that it happened that way. There are far too many policemen in here.

“We were very close to the fans. The time span between the attack and the police action was really short. We must understand that the police cannot predict every move.

“The England fans were doing nothing wrong. When we saw violent behavior we acted immediately and those causing the problems were arrested.”

That version of events was in stark contrast to one England fan at the scene, who told Perform: “We were having a quiet drink. We’d seen these people walking up and down all day. The police had seen them but did not stop them.

“We started singing, they started throwing smoke bombs and glasses. All we wanted to do was have a drink and enjoy the football.

“I don’t know if they were local fans, we didn’t want trouble.”

He added: “I saw them walking up and down. They’ve been here for five hours, we’ve been here for five hours. It was going to happen. There was zero safety.

“Don’t come here, you get no protection.”

The Military police admitted they were surprised by the attack as there was no obvious motive.

“They came here with an aggressive mindset, they were looking for trouble,” Lieutenant Martins added.

“I can’t confirm they were local hooligans from a specific team because they were not wearing shirts. But they were all Brazilians which is very strange since Brazil is not playing against England.