Sun, Jul 02, 2006 - Page 23 News List

World Cup: Big clashes? No, just a jig


Fears of heavy clashes between Germany and England fans faded as they danced, drank and sang together, looking toward Berlin and the World Cup final.

An estimated 70,000 English and 20,000 Portuguese fans began flooding the city, a mining town in the industrial Ruhr area that is one of the smallest World Cup venues, on Friday in advance of the England-Portugal quarter-final yesterday. The traveling fans joined the locals in celebrating Germany's 4-2 quarter-final win over Argentina.

Hundreds of England fans cheered their German counterparts, with both groups chanting "Finale! Finale!" Unlike last week in Stuttgart, when German taunts led to a pair of brief but violent incidents with English supporters, the mood was decidedly different.

In one viewing area, England and Germany fans danced with each other, celebrating the win with German fans, saying they would see England in the final in Berlin.

Across from one restaurant, more than 300 people began a quick game of pickup soccer until the ball was ultimately booted onto the roof of a five-story building.

Despite the easy atmosphere, several Germany and England fans were detained by police for throwing bottles and isolated fights.

The exact figure wasn't known, but at least 10 people sporting Germany flags and jerseys were taken away by police while footage taken by AP showed dozens of people arrested after a similar scuffle near the main train station.

Police said 30 people had been detained -- 20 English and 10 Germans.

German police fanned out across the city, lining up two or three deep along the boulevard that extends from the train station.

Greater Manchester assistant chief constable Stephen Thomas said the fact that the England fans were so spread out was likely to prevent any violence.

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