France Beefs Up Security for Euro 2016

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Security "bottleneck" at French Cup final on May 21 (Getty Images)
(WFI) More than 90,000 police and security officials will be deployed for Euro 2016, says the French government.

To counter the threat of terrorist attacks and fan violence, interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve said around 77,000 police and riot control officers would be in place in the massive security effort around UEFA’s flagship tournament along with 13,000 private security officials and 1,000 volunteers.

Fresh security concerns for the June 10 to July 10 tournament arose following scenes of panic at the French Cup final between Paris Saint-Germain and Marseille at the Stade de France on May 21.

Officials said there was serious overcrowding outside the stadium before the game. Fans reportedly threw firecrackers and flares outside and inside the ground, while searches at entry points failed to stop some banned objects being brought into the venue.

Stade de France, venue for the tournament’s opening game and final, was targeted by Islamic State suicide bombers during a wave of terror attacks in Paris last November which killed 130 people. The 24-team competition opens next month with a national state of emergency still in force following the attacks.

Cazeneuve told L’Equipe the security issues at the French Cup final would be taken into account in finalizing security planning but the strategy for the Euro 2016 tournament at 10 stadiums around France was very different.

UEFA is responsible for security inside the stadiums, with private security companies in charge of the “fan zones” – set to accommodate more than 7 million people. The 51 matches of Euro 2016 are expected to be attended by around 2.5 million spectators.

“Our objective is for the Euro to be a big festive gathering, but we owe the French the truth. Zero percent precaution means 100 percent risk, but 100 percent precaution does not mean a zero percent risk,” Cazeneuve was quoted by AFP.

Riot police inside Stade de France during French Cup final (Getty Images)
“We are doing everything to avoid a terrorist attack, and we are preparing to respond,” he said, adding that some of the 10,000 soldiers deployed as part of France’s anti-terrorism measures would also join police in ensuring the safety of stadiums and fan zones.

In March, French president Francois Hollande vowed to ramp up security for Euro 2016 in the wake of the Paris and Brussels terrorist atrocities. Hollande admitted Euro 2016 was a target for terrorists but stressed France should "not yield to this pressure and this threat".

UEFA says it is confident “all security measures will be in place for a safe and festive Euro” with no plans to play any matches behind closed doors. But European football’s governing body is working on contingency plans and on multiple scenarios around crisis situations to ensure the security of players and fans.

UEFA spokesman Pedro Pinto tells INSIDER “Safety and security during Euro 2016 is a key priority for UEFA, the local organizers Euro 2016 SAS and the French authorities.

"For more than three years, UEFA and the local organizers have been working closely with the relevant authorities to develop the most appropriate and robust mechanisms to ensure a safe and secure tournament for all involved," he added. "We are confident that the necessary measures are in place to guarantee the safety of all participants and fans.”

By INSIDER editor Mark Bisson

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