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Heavy police presence in London as protests heat up and Champions League final draws closer | UK News

More than 2,000 police officers are on duty across London today to monitor fan events ahead of the Champions League final at Wembley, as well as at several protests.

It’s a busy day for Met Police officers as they keep an eye on Borussia Dortmund and Real Madrid supporters ahead of 8pm kick off, while a protest led by far-right activist Tommy Robinson goes on at Parliament Square.

There was also a counter-protest led by Stand Up To Racism at Whitehall.

People take part in a protest march through London, organised by Tommy Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley Lennon. Groups from across the UK linked to football disorder are expected to attend the event the Metropolitan Police said. Picture date: Saturday June 1, 2024
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Scenes from Tommy Robinson’s march on Saturday. Pic: PA

People take part in a protest march through London, organised by Tommy Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley Lennon. Groups from across the UK linked to football disorder are expected to attend the event the Metropolitan Police said. Picture date: Saturday June 1, 2024.
Image:
Pic: PA

Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, says he is protesting what he refers to as “two-tier policing,” while Stand Up To Racism counter-protesters say they are campaigning against what they deem to be “racism and Islamophobia”.

Met Police say they have identified individuals in the crowd at Robinson’s protest who “have a history of being involved in violent disorder”.

In an update on X on Saturday afternoon, they added: “A number have football banning orders and are associated with hooligan groups from London and across the UK.

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“There is also an element of the crowd previously well known for involvement in anti-lockdown protests during the pandemic and associated disorder.

“While there have not been any offences so far, a number of people in the crowd are intoxicated. The event still has a number of hours left to go.”

Tommy Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley Lennon, speaks during a protest march at Parliament Square in London. Groups from across the UK linked to football disorder are expected to attend the event the Metropolitan Police said. Picture date: Saturday June 1, 2024. PA Photo. A static counter-protest, organised by Stand Up To Racism, will take place in Whitehall from midday. See PA story POLICE Protest. Photo credit should read: David Parry/PA Wire
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Tommy Robinson addresses the crowd at Parliament Square. Pic: PA

Tommy Robinson (centre), whose real name is Stephen Yaxley Lennon, leads a protest march through London to Parliament Square where speeches will take place and a film will be shown. Groups from across the UK linked to football disorder are expected to attend the event the Metropolitan Police said. Picture date: Saturday June 1, 2024.
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Robinson among protesters. Pic: PA

People take part in a protest march through London to Parliament Square, organised by Tommy Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley Lennon. Groups from across the UK linked to football disorder are expected to attend the event the Metropolitan Police said. Picture date: Saturday June 1, 2024.
Image:
Pic: PA

Met Police also said a number of people at a smaller protest in Waterloo had been arrested after attempting to block traffic. The Youth Demand protesters were demonstrating against Israel’s ongoing offensive in Gaza.

The Met has vowed its officers’ presence will continue to be felt into the evening, when Europe’s biggest club competition reaches its conclusion.

Fans on Olympic Way ahead of the Champions League final. Pic: Lucy North/PA
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Fans on Olympic Way ahead of the Champions League final. Pic: Lucy North/PA

T/Commander Louise Puddefoot, who is leading this weekend’s policing operation, said: “We want fans visiting London for this fantastic event to have a safe and enjoyable experience.

“There will be a visible police and stewarding presence not just around Wembley but at fan zones and other events.

“Anyone who sees anything suspicious or who has concerns about safety or security should speak to an officer or a member of the stewarding team.”

Louis Rees-Zammit: Former Wales rugby star signs for NFL champions Kansas City Chiefs | UK News

Former Wales rugby international Louis Rees-Zammit has signed for NFL champions Kansas City Chiefs.

The former Gloucester, Wales and British and Irish Lions wing announced in January he was quitting rugby to chase his American football dream.

In a video posted by the Chiefs on X, he said: “Hi Chiefs Kingdom, Louis Rees-Zammit here.

“Just signed, can’t wait to go and see you all at Arrowhead.”

The Chiefs said on their official website: “The Kansas City Chiefs made an international splash on Friday with the addition of former European rugby star Louis Rees-Zammit to the roster.”

Rees-Zammit had made 32 appearances for his country’s national side, and scored 70 points.

But the 23-year-old joined the NFL’s international player pathway ahead of a Six Nations tournament that saw Wales take home the wooden spoon.

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Welsh rugby union star chases American dream

Earlier this month, he told Sky News making it in the NFL would be the “most proud moment of [his] life”.

He visited several NFL franchises, including the New York Jets, Cleveland Browns and Denver Broncos, but has settled on the Chiefs, who have won the last two Super Bowl titles and three of the last five, inspired by star quarterback Patrick Mahomes and tight end Travis Kelce.

His dream moved a step closer when he impressed during last week’s pro day that forms part of the international player pathway.

Scouts from all 32 NFL teams watched him go through his paces at the event at the University of South Florida.

Louis Rees-Zammit
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Louis Rees-Zammit played 32 times for Wales. Pic: PA

Rees-Zammit clocked 4.43 seconds in his 40-yard dash, a 9ft 7in broad jump and 29-inch vertical jump.

He will try to win a place on Kansas City’s final 53-man roster for the 2024 season, which begins in September.

Running back and wide receiver are his designated positions, but if he does not make it, he is likely to spend his first season on Kansas City’s practice squad, the BBC said.

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The Chiefs added: “Rees-Zammit participated in the international player pathway programme workout earlier this month, which provided the former rugby star with an opportunity to show NFL scouts what he could do.

“His workout included a 4.44-second 40-yard dash, which would have ranked fifth among tailbacks at the 2024 NFL scouting combine.”

Recommendations after 2022 Champions League stadium failings will be in place before Paris Olympics, IOC says | World News

Olympic bosses have told Sky News they have received assurances that recommendations from a new report will be implemented at venues ahead of next year’s Paris Games.

The UEFA-commissioned review into the poor treatment of Liverpool fans outside the Champions League final in the French capital last May found the failings “almost led to a disaster” after faults by European football’s governing body and the lack of a venue risk assessment by French authorities.

In response, a spokesperson for the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said: “We are in constant contact with the Organising Committee for the Olympic Games Paris 2024, as security for the Games is the responsibility of the host nation.

Soccer Football - Champions League Final - Liverpool v Real Madrid - Stade de France, Saint-Denis near Paris, France - May 28, 2022 Fans and police officers at the turnstiles inside the stadium as the match is delayed REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

“French authorities have already conducted a review of events during the UEFA Champions League final, which was led by Michel Cadot, the French government’s inter-ministerial delegate for major sports events.

“We understand that the recent report from the UEFA-commissioned investigation incorporates findings from the review conducted by Mr Cadot, and that the recommendations of his review will already be applied across the stadiums at the upcoming Rugby World Cup in France this year.”

The independent report criticised French police for firing tear gas and pepper spray indiscriminately on concourses near turnstiles being used by Liverpool fans, leading to crushing around security barriers at the Stade de France before the game against Real Madrid.

Read more:
What actually happened at the Stade de France?

Videos from the incident showed Liverpool fans reacting in dismay, with some desperately trying to climb the railings.

UEFA bosses ordered the review to uncover what went wrong, even within their organisation, and its conclusions were discovered by Sky News before the report was then published in full on Monday evening.

There were significant issues accessing the venue and French authorities are criticised for deflecting responsibility, particularly after false claims about a mass of fans without tickets or fake ones.

Soccer Football - Champions League Final - Liverpool v Real Madrid - Stade de France, Saint-Denis near Paris, France - May 28, 2022 French police arrest a man outside Stade de France before Champions League Final REUTERS/Fernando Kallas

Police were blamed for not being proactive enough in intervening when locals attacked fans, and for being over-reliant on the use of tear gas and pepper spray on blameless fans.

As an event owner, UEFA is assigned “primary responsibility”, but it’s understood some commission members disagreed with the conclusion.

The match was delayed for 37 minutes as a combination of operational problems outside the venue created access issues for distressed fans – particularly those who are disabled and asthmatics who had to contend with the tear gas and pepper spray.

The report also said the police and the French Football Federation (FFF) “bear responsibility” because of their roles ensuring public safety.

It was described as a near-miss event in the review, referencing an event that almost turns into a “mass fatality catastrophe”.