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Watch as Germans use noisy road sweepers to 'force' England fans to go home at Euros


It was 1am when Cologne dispatched its road sweeper vehicles towards the crowd of England fans. Equipped with jets of water and loud spinning brushes, these were the type of heavy-duty machines seen driving along the kerb, cleaning gutters across the UK.

I’ve never seen one slowly piloted into a crowd of around a thousand people but that’s what happened in the German city as the clock struck one. Suddenly, five were deployed to clean the Heumarkt square

In addition to the sweepers, two full-size bin trucks were also suddenly present to deal with what appeared to be a limited amount of rubbish. As the big vehicle reversed through the crowd a worker in hi-vis appeared and chucked just two bin bags into the vast metallic jaws.

The enthusiastic approach to cleaning the cobbles of Cologne’s main square had one clear and obvious consequence: it dispersed the crowd.

The extraordinarily loud sound the brushes made when they hit the cobbles would drown out even the most vociferous crowd and the thick metal shells the vehicles have made it almost impossible for any irritated fans to affect its progress.

I saw one supporter banging on the side of the sweeper, but his little arms looked pathetic, there was no doubt the machine was winning. Before the sweepers arrived, a crowd of a thousand England fans had been leaping up and down singing ‘Phil Foden’s on fire’. After 20 minutes there were just a hundred milling about.

Staff in some of the local bars I asked claimed having five road sweepers and two bin trucks weaving through the crowds at 1am was normal. But my own experience from a couple of days earlier told me that, for the Euros at least, that was not always the case.

There were maybe three times the number of Scotland fans in the same square last week, most of whom were drinking booze bought from off-licences rather than from the beer halls.

It was an amazing party atmosphere with fans singing about John McGinn and Diego Maradona. It was also not interrupted by an army of road sweepers.

I only saw one vehicle making its way through the crowd at the same time when Scotland were in town despite the mess being at a similar level. It should be said there were differences earlier that night. Riot police in helmets had formed a blockade between a pub filled with England fans and a pocket of Slovenian fans.

But it was no more than a show of strength, the atmosphere was overwhelmingly positive, a far cry from the disorder of Gelsenkirchen or the edgy feeling in Frankfurt.

Perhaps it was reputation rather than any actual misbehavior that prompted Cologne to send in the road sweepers. When I spoke to bar staff about the comparison with Scotland fans the difference in their reaction was significant.

Discussing the Tartan Army their eyes would light up and they’d show me videos of them leaping about with the fans.
Mention England and there was a polite smile or a roll of the eyes.It’s sad because the fans partying in Heumarkt didn’t deserve to have their party interrupted.

Perhaps it was the case that they were paying the price for negative events of the past.

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