Champions League final disrupted by pitch invaders in major security failure | Champions League

Wembley officials were left embarrassed after three pitch invaders caused a delay to the Champions League final between Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund despite the presence of more than 2,500 stewards as part of increased security measures.

An 18-month operation had been put in place in an attempt to avoid a repeat of violent scenes that marred the Euro 2020 final between England and Italy, with a large police presence at Wembley and throughout London.

Metropolitan Police said 53 arrests were made during the final, five linked to the pitch invasion and “the majority of others for attempts to breach security”.

It is the nature of the pitch invasion which will raise most questions. The game had to be halted barely 30 seconds after kick-off when three men made it on to the turf, with one attempting to take a selfie with Madrid’s Vinícius Júnior and Jude Bellingham before eventually being bundled off.

Another who had eluded security for almost a minute was eventually apprehended with the help of the Dortmund midfielder Marcel Sabitzer, with a fourth invader stopped before he could get over the barriers.

All those involved were wearing T-shirts which appeared to bear the name of the Belarusian streamer Mellstroy. The 25-year-old was reported to have offered £300,000 to anyone who ran on during the final with his name on their shirt.

The incident caused a two-minute delay to the match, with the UK broadcaster TNT Sports cutting away during its live coverage. An announcement at half-time reminded fans that entering the field of play was “an arrestable offence”.

After the serious disorder at the Euro 2020 final – and the 2022 Champions League final in Paris having been brought to the brink of disaster by organisational failures – officials had pledged an unprecedented security operation involving more than 2,500 stewards and a £5m investment in security infrastructure.

Speaking before Saturday night’s match, the FA’s tournaments, events and interim stadium director, Chris Bryant, had said: “It is vital we deliver and do every­thing we can control in the best ­possible way … We are in a really good place, we’ve been ­planning in detail for 18 months.”

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A Met Police spokesperson added that footage circulating online after the game of groups of ticketless fans trying to force a way inside “does not necessarily represent successful attempts to enter the stadium. There are typically multiple further levels of security beyond an initial entrance.

“We are confident that the overwhelming majority of attempts to unlawfully gain access to Wembley this evening were unsuccessful thanks to the efforts of officers, stewards and other stadium staff.”

A Wembley spokesperson said last night: “We will support the relevant authorities to ensure appropriate action is taken.”

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