WITH the European Championships about to get underway, football fever has started to kick in.
The Covid-19 pandemic means that it will be a very different tournament to previous campaigns, with Wales fans advised not to travel abroad.
For those who decide to go, police officers from Wales have travelled to host countries to liaise with European forces.
In the previous European championships, the performance of the Wales team captured the imagination of the public and police are reminding people who go to pubs and clubs to watch the games to drink responsibly and stay safe.
The message for fans both at home and abroad is: One Team, Same Goal, Stay Safe.
Superintendent Jason James, who is leading the delegation of officers from South Wales, North Wales and Gwent, said: “Welsh football fans have earned an excellent reputation when travelling abroad and we are looking forward to them continuing their excellent behaviour into the European championships this summer.
“Fans have been advised not to travel, therefore the numbers of travelling fans will be far less compared to the tournament in France in 2016. Nevertheless, our officers will be there to liaise with local forces and engage with fans to ensure they are safe and can enjoy the tournament.”
Wales’ opening two matches are being played in Baku, Azerbaijan before moving on to the Italian city of Rome. If Wales qualify from the group stage then knock-out matches will take place in other cities across Europe.
A passport surrender has taken place to ensure that individuals who have previously caused trouble at football matches and are the subject of Football Banning Orders cannot travel abroad.
For those fans who will be supporting their country at home, then a policing plan will be in place to ensure fans are safe in towns and cities across South Wales.
Inspector Jeff Burton said: “People will want to go out to enjoy the tournament and watch the matches in pubs and clubs and our aim is to keep them safe.
“We will have extra police officers on patrol in town and city centres and our plea to fans is to drink responsibly and enjoy the tournament. There are still Coronavirus restrictions in place in licensed premises so please respect these measures which are there to keep you safe and show respect and tolerance to staff and those people who may not have been out to socialise for a long time due to the pandemic.”