Pubdate: Wed, 14 Jun 2000 Source: BBC News (UK Web) Copyright: 2000 BBC Feedback: Website: Forum:


Is this the secret behind the trouble-free tournament?

Forget the special low-alcohol Festival Beer on sale at Euro 2000 - the real reason for the trouble-free behaviour of England fans is a lot stronger than that.

Police have admitted that the widespread availability of cannabis in the Netherlands has had a calming effect on fans, whom it was feared would cause trouble after the Portugal game last Monday.

Thousands of supporters are taking advantage of the relaxed nature of Dutch society, by puffing their way through the tournament.

Reports say ticketless fans in Eindhoven's coffeeshops, where marijuana is decriminalised, greeted the 3-2 defeat with "mild disappointment and gentle applause".

"The cannabis may have helped relax them," said Johann Beelan of the Eindhoven police force.

"Even the hooligans enjoyed the party - and they told our officers.

"There were lots of things for fans to do and everybody had a good time," he added.

'Here we blow'

Pro-cannabis campaigners in the UK have seized upon the comments as evidence that authorities should take a similar approach to the drug in this country.

Only five fans were arrested, all before the game and all for minor offences.

England's next match, against Germany on Saturday, is likely to provide a sterner test for the authorities as it takes place in Charleroi in Belgium - where drug laws are much tighter.

Some 40,000 England fans are expected for the game - ten times the number allocated tickets.