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Social media pranks cause security headache at Euro 2024 football tournament

England fans celebrate after winning a quarterfinal match between England and Switzerland at the Euro 2024 soccer tournament in Duesseldorf, Germany, Saturday, July 6, 2024.
England fans celebrate after winning a quarterfinal match between England and Switzerland at the Euro 2024 soccer tournament in Duesseldorf, Germany, Saturday, July 6, 2024. Copyright Hassan Ammar/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved
Copyright Hassan Ammar/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved
By Kristina Jovanovski with AP
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Stunts and photographs posted online are encouraging poor behaviour from fans, from throwing cups at players to trying to take selfies with them on the pitch.

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Social media content has become a source of frustration for security at the Euro 2024 football tournament in Germany, as pranksters garner hits and encourage copycats.

German YouTuber Marvin Wildhage posted a video of himself entering the field during the championship's opening ceremony disguised as a mascot.

Wildhage entered Munich's stadium in the costume before dancing on the corner of the field. He was eventually led away by a UEFA staff member.

His video has reached nearly three million views.

“One new challenge you’ll probably see, or at least a growing trend is people jumping on the pitch to approach their idol to take selfies with them. That’s an old tradition in football, unfortunately, but [there’s] a new increase in this sort of celebratory behaviour because people want to take pictures, post content on social media," said Ronan Evain, Executive Director of Football Supporters Europe.

UEFA is in charge of security at the stadiums and has already been forced to deploy additional safety measures after four fans tried to get selfies with Cristiano Ronaldo on the pitch during Portugal’s 3-0 win over Turkey. More also tried after the game ended in Dortmund.

A young pitch invader takes a selfie with Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo during a group match at the Euro 2024 football tournament in Germany.
A young pitch invader takes a selfie with Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo during a group match at the Euro 2024 football tournament in Germany.Michael Probst/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved

One expert who worked in stadium security for the 2006 World Cup in Germany said that entrances and exits are of particular concern.

“The problem is that these gates are not easy to open so in the event of a mass panic, if hundreds, or even a thousand people try to flee there would certainly be difficulties, problems, injuries or even death," said Hans-Walter Borries, Director of the Institute for Economic and Security Studies (FIRMITAS) at the University of Witten.

"This would need to be reconsidered and my assessment is that in the last 18 years, almost nothing has been done," Borries added.

Experts warn it’s not possible to control the behaviour of fans all the time, particularly as there are no longer fences separating spectators from the pitch. 

“There’s more comfort for the fans close to the pitch, you can enjoy the game better but that obviously creates new security challenges. It’s harder to protect players, so it's a bonus for fans, for us, to self-police ourselves, to understand that if we want to keep this comfort when we’re in the stadium, we need to respect the pitch,” said Ronan Evain from Football Supporters Europe.

The Euro 2024 tournament runs until Sunday, and the final game takes place in Berlin.

UEFA declined Euronews’ request for comment.

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