Commander Bob Broadhurst said police have received no specific intelligence that any violence or disorder should be expected during the tournament.
However, experience shows the tension surrounding the tournament and the heavy drinking associated with football can easily spark trouble.
According to reports from the Yorkshire Post and the BBC, Commander Broadhurst is reported to have said “Every one of the 32 nations playing has a fairly sizeable community in London and we have mapped that out, we know where they are.”
“There is no intelligence that any nation is going to cause any trouble, but we know that some nations can be more 'jubilant' than others and we have to manage that.”
Not surprisingly, the main focus will be on England matches. Apparently the windows of Portuguese cafes were smashed when Portugal knocked England out of Euro 2004.
Fifteen police officers were injured when hundreds of football fans went on the rampage in Croydon after England lost to France in June 2004.
German cars have been vandalised in other years.
The reports also say police were called to quell violence in London after Algeria played Egypt in a dramatic World Cup qualifying match last November.
So the police are doing their job, which is good to know. Of course they could have saved themselves the trouble of checking the fixture list by consulting my handy guide to World Cup 2010 Trouble Hot Spots in London (available in all good bookstores and some terrible ones).
Places where trouble may occur
West London bars during Australia’s games: the staff will all be drinking VB at home, meaning nobody gets served. That won’t end well.
Sunday June 13th Germany v Australia
Saturday June 19th Ghana v Australia
Wednesday June 23rd Australia v Serbia
France games shown in North West London: the Hand of a Frog incident could cause rivers of Guinness to flow if the French progress. The Irish won’t like that at all.
Friday June 11th Uruguay v France
Thursday June 17th France v Mexico
Tuesday June 22nd France v South Africa
London is home to second biggest number of South African ex-pats in the western world, according to Wikipedia. Most work in the financial sector, with a significant cluster in Canary Wharf. While they won’t be shy to kick the French either, local bye-laws dating back to the 14th century ban the French from working in the financial services industry and may mean the baguette munchers are difficult to track down.
North and north east London is home to a large Greek and Greek-Cypriot community, while Nigerians are predominantly based in South London boroughs. This means both can be safely separated from each other during matches before joining England fans desperate to see the back of Argentina.
Saturday June 12th Argentina v Nigeria
Tuesday Jun 22nd Greece v Argentina
Any pubs, clubs and outdoor venues showing England games: lots of pissed people and anxiety is a traditionally combustible mixture. Thankfully the Met seem to have cottoned on to this.
Saturday June 12th England v USA
Friday June 18th England v Algeria
Wednesday June 23rd Slovenia v England
Of course there could be all manner of complications with this set of fixtures. The hitherto unknown branch of al-Qaeda known as The Edgware Road Liberation Front may cause a few problems during the USA and England games. It is not known whether they have issues with Slovenia.
The rest of the matches will probably pass off peacefully, although I wouldn’t like to be a Paraguayan or a New Zealander when the sides meet on Thursday June 24th. Not because of any violence on the streets, you understand; there aren’t enough Paraguayans in London to play 11-a-side footy and the Kiwis have that scary dance. No contest. The problem is Paraguay v New Zealand just sounds so dull.
The real problems may start once the group phase is out of the way. England could face Germany or Australia in the last 16. Serbia would be no pushover either. Their boys took Jill Dando out (allegedly). Playing any of these could result in trouble or spark wild conspiracy theories involving Jeffrey Archer. Nobody wants that.
England could be drawn against Argentina in the quarter finals. The good news is the total population of Argentineans in the UK is smaller than that of Paraguay. And they don’t seem to run many cafes or bars. Small numbers and low visibility may reduce the prospect of trouble in this case.
In fact, since few of the main World Cup contenders have large communities in London, the whole thing should pass off relatively peacefully. The Met probably know this already but need an excuse to bump up the overtime payments during the summer.
So if you see someone throwing rocks at cafe windows, give them a tenner and politely ask them to finish their shift back at the station.