My prized England flag shown on TV was STOLEN by Serbian ‘hooligans’ at Euro 2024 game – then they taunted me with it

AN ENGLAND fan has revealed his disappointment after Serbian football fans stole a flag which he had for 20 years.

Matt Barnes, 42, and his 13-year-old son Harry travelled from their Eastbourne home to Germany to watch England play in the Euros 2024, bringing with them the 14ft St George’s Cross banner.

Matt and his son at the Euro 2024 match

Matt with his son at a Swansea away game

The flag, as seen on TV, during the Euro 2024 game between England and Serbia

The £500 flag, which he has had since the Euro 2004 competition, has been with Matt all over the world, and in just about every football stadium in Britain.

As England battled Serbia on June 16, Matt’s banner, featuring a Millwall lion, a Three Lions logo, and the words “Millwall: No one likes us”, was pride of place pitchside.

But when Matt, who works for Mercedez Benz and was born in Lewisham, walked down the steps to collect the banner at the final whistle, he was horrified to find it had gone missing.

To make matters worse, he saw the very same flag in a boastful social media post, being held upside-down in triumph by people believed to be Serbia fans who pocketed it.

Matt told The Sun: “For some people it’s a flag, but for me it’s a sentimental thing for doing 20 years of football with my dad.”

He said that his elderly dad Brian is no longer able to travel with him, so the sentimental value of the flag had considerable, because it reminded him of the times they spent together as father and son.

Matt had been purposefuly attending as many games as he could over four years to build up enough points to go to the Euros – the first tournament he and his own son went to together.

He said: “It was supposed to be a really good experience and just to have that bit done at the end…”

Matt claimed he had “next to no help from German police”.

He said: “In the world we live in I thought we could track all this.

“Basically, they’re taking the p***!

“I don’t know how you can commit a theft then be brazen about it and no one seems to care.

“I know there’s other flags that have been done and it will annoy proper clubs like Leeds, Sheffield, Villa… there must be something that can be done.

“Like I say, I’d rather they nick my wallet or rob my car or something, it’s got that amount of sentimental value to me, it can’t be replaced.”

Matt asked for steward to take a picture of him and his son, and was getting lots of messages from his friends throughout the game after they spotted his flag on the TV.

Serbia face Uefa punishment over flags

SERBIA face a heavy Uefa fine for fan taunts during their opening Euro 2024 defeat by England.

Uefa announced it had opened disciplinary proceedings and levied charges of “throwing objects” and “transmitting a provocative message unfit for a sports event” during the match in Gelsenkirchen.

Serbia is a public ally of Russia in its war with Ukraine and supporters brandished the red white and blue flag of the Moscow-run state.

This apparently can be seen as “provocative”, given the feelings of not just Ukraine, but also Poland and the Baltic states, who fear becoming the next victims of Russian expansionism.

Russia, though, remains a Uefa member and while the country is banned from competitive football, Russian media representatives were given accreditation for the tournament.

But some Serbian fans also displayed a land map of the country which included neighbouring Kosovo, long claimed by the Belgrade regime.

That bore the message “nema predaje”, which means “never surrender” and suggested backing for the Serbian ambitions.

Uefa said its Control, Ethics and Disciplinary Body would decide the punishment in the coming days.

The next day he was also sent screenshots of a group of people posting it online.

He said: “As flags go, it’s beautiful. It was probably the second biggest flag in the ground. Five- or 600 quid but it’s 20 years of travelling.

“It was at Euro 2004, it’s been to Germany, taken to France, all over the place.

“I got the thing made with my dad when we travelled in 2004, but he can’t do it now.”

He said it had “never crossed my mind” that someone would steal a flag at a football stadium.

I painted giant St George’s cross on my driveway

AN ENGLAND superfan who covered his house in the flag of St George has slammed vile trolls who call him “racist”.

Martin Baker, 50, has decked out his home in Thanington, Canterbury with dozens of flags in celebration of his beloved country competing in the Euro 2024 tournament.

Martin, a bricklayer and father-of-three, even painted the red and white emblem over his driveway to show support for the Three Lions, who last night beat Serbia 1-0.

He told KentOnline: “The neighbours don’t seem to mind, and people are always stopping to take photos outside with all the flags.”

But Martin said that when a picture of his patriotic home was posted online, some people slammed the St George flag for being associated with racism.

Martin said: “There were some nasty comments with people saying things like, ‘You’re National Front’ and ‘What universal credit do you claim?’

“But I just laughed it off. I put the flags up for a bit of fun.

“At the end of the day, I live in England, I’m in England, I’m England through and through and I’ll fly the English flag if I want to.”

Martin is such a dedicated England fan that he even has the Three Lions badge tattooed on his chest.

He went to watch his national team play in Portugal during the 2004 Euros.

But this year he is making do with watching the matches at the pub with some friends.

He believed England could “go all the way” this year, saying the team has a decent mix of youth and experience.

Martin said: “So long as we make it through the group stages, I think we’ve got a great chance.”

Matt added: “I was back of the lower stand… they must have taken it at the full-time whistle, and as I went down the stairs, they must have passed me and I never realised.

“German police are clearly swamped with Euro fans… but how can social media not be tracked?

“Traveling with England away is like a close-knit community so I wanted to highlight what is going on and maybe help other clubs.

“I have seen many others sent to me that have been stolen – Villa, Sheffield, Leeds, all well supported loyal clubs.”

A spokesman for the Münster Police Headquarters told The Sun: “The Gelsenkirchen police have filed a criminal complaint regarding the facts described.

“The investigation into this is ongoing. There is currently no concrete information about possible suspects.”

Matt saw the flag being held upside down, posted on social media

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