LONDON – More than 100 soccer hooligans are secretly plotting to disrupt the World Cup by slipping into Japan from Thailand, a British daily reported Sunday.
“It is feared they are targeting England’s crunch match with Argentina on June 7 for the worst outbreak of soccer violence since the riots in Belgium during Euro 2000,” the Sunday Mirror said.
According to the daily, Chris Henderson, 42, and Steve Hickmott, 46, once members of “the feared Chelsea headhunters gang of hooligans,” are now based at the Thai resort of Pattaya and running a bar called the Dog’s Bollocks.
The hooligans will travel to Thailand from British airports over the next few weeks. Henderson and Hickmott will arrange flights for them to slip into Japan and get tickets for the soccer games, the daily said, based on a report by an undercover reporter.
The hooligans “want to beat security measures on direct flights from Britain by entering Japan via local flights from Bangkok or sneaking in through cohost nation South Korea,” it said.
They are “even planning travel on the day of the matches — the flight from Thailand to Japan is under six hours — to avoid being linked with trouble at games,” it said.
The Mirror also said that criminals in Thailand are known to be arranging false identification for hooligans, who can be banned from traveling to England matches abroad.
Bryan Drew of the National Criminal Intelligence Service was quoted as saying: “We intend to stop anybody intent on causing trouble from entering Japan.”
There are plans in place and we know what is going on in Thailand.
“If England fans want to travel to Thailand we cannot stop them. But if they are hooligans they will find it extremely hard to get to the World Cup.”
Japan and South Korea will cohost the World Cup finals from May 31 to June 30.
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