Security stepped up for England-Algeria
By MIKE ZEISBERGER, QMI Agency
CAPE TOWN -- In the air, police helicopters whizzed back and forth over the Cape Town waterfront like hungry sea birds, shining spotlights to make sure there was no chaos erupting down below.
On the streets, an army of police officers stood at almost every corner, making sure people made their way toward the stadium in orderly fashion.
Local authorities here certainly were taking no chances prior to the England-Algeria game Friday night, especially given the activities of violence that took place here 24 hours earlier.
Those particular incidents, by the way, did not involve rowdy English fans.
Indeed, gun fire echoed through the streets outside Green Point Stadium Thursday when police sprayed rubber bullets in the direction of protesting stadium security guards who have been in the midst of a wage dispute for more than a week.
A police spokesperson indicated seven people had been arrested in the conflict. The Cape Times reported seeing a metro policeman unleashing four rounds at the back of a woman who, according to the paper, was standing not more than several metres away.
Ironically, in the weeks leading up to the England-Algeria game, authorities had been talking tough about containing the potential hooliganism that might rear its ugly head when Wayne Rooney and his teammates came to town, especially with about 25,000 English fans projected to accompany them. Little did they know disgruntled security workers would be an issue down the road too.
At that time, Capetown police chief Rob Young was talking tough about facing down rowdies, threatening to throw violent punks into train cars that had been converted into prison cells. There were also reports that water cannons had been purchased from the U.S.
"People might say we are treating (English hooligans) like cattle but if they behave like animals we will give them no quarter," Young told the Sunday Times several weeks ago. "Football hooligans might think they are tough but we are the toughest gang in town."
Meanwhile, English fans filled the streets of Cape Town Friday, waving flags and singing songs. At one point during the noon hour, a tour bus stuffed with England fans drove past the waterfront, blasting the tones of God Save The Queen over a loudspeaker.
By mid-afternoon, a collective roar came from bars and restaurants courtesy of English supporters when the final whistle blew on Serbia’s 1-0 win over rival Germany.
"Who's laughing now, Kaiser?" bellowed one fan draped in the English flag.
The comment was in reference to the criticism of England offered earlier in the week by German legend Franz Beckenbauer, who suggested the English side had regressed under manager Fabio Capello.