A close to capacity crowd of 80,000 is expected at Wembley for tonight’s prestige friendly.
10,000 tickets have officially been sold through the FAI and England’s FA to Irish fans but, knowing their ingenuity at sourcing tickets through a variety of channels, it’s expected that there will be significantly more than that inside the ground to back the green shirts tonight.
Always an unusually high profile fixture, in light of the fact that this is the first meeting between the two teams since the abandoned game at Lansdowne Road in 1995, tonight’s match has come under even more scrutiny as a result of the violence which disfigured the recent Wigan-Millwall FA Cup semi-final at Wembley.
Gardaí, the Metropolitan Police, the FAI and the FA have been working closely in the build-up to the game and will have a final meeting today. But all parties have been keen to send out the message that they are not expecting any major problems this evening.
However, where Irish supporters do end up outside their designated area in the ground, the advice from the authorities is that they should not openly display their colours. Representatives for both teams have repeatedly called for the national anthems to be respected this evening and, yesterday, Giovanni Trapattoni added his voice to the appeals for the match to be played against a sporting backdrop.
“It’s a game, thank God,” he reminded the media, “a friendly game”.
And captain Robbie Keane added: “Rivalry is good but we certainly don’t want anyone to cross that line and certainly don’t want a repeat of what happened a long time ago. Irish fans have always behaved very well, there have never ever been any problems with them and I don’t see that there will be at this game. We all have to move on from what happened a long time ago so, hopefully, after the game we will only be speaking about how good a game it was.”
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