Paris - With Europe on high alert, French Interior Minister
Bernard Cazeneuve said on Tuesday that the deadly explosions in Brussels are a
reminder that a "very high security level" will be required during
this year's European Championship in France.
Speaking hours after three explosions killed dozens in the Belgian
capital, Cazeneuve said that everything will be put in place to guarantee
"collective security" at the June 10-July 10 tournament, with the
mobilization of specially trained emergency staff, police forces and fire-fighters.
In the wake of the Paris attacks that left 130 people dead in
November, France remains in a state of emergency which was recently extended to
May 26, two weeks before the opening game. Tournament organizers had
strengthened security measures and made changes to the particularly vulnerable
fan zones well before the events in Brussels.
Fan zones are typically set up in squares or parks near the centre
of the city, allowing supporters to watch a game on a big screen. Security can
be lighter than at stadiums.
About seven million supporters visited the fan zones in the host
cities during Euro 2012 in Ukraine and Poland, and there are concerns the
designated Euro 2016 areas for the public could be targets for attackers. Each
fan zone can hold 10,000 to 100,000 people and French authorities want to
maintain a festive atmosphere within those areas while protecting crowds.
Cazeneuve said Euro 2016 should bring "sportsmanship,
festivities and security for teams, accompanying staff and spectators."
After French authorities last week simulated a chemical attack at
an open-air screening of a match more devastating than those on the Stade de
France on Nov. 13, Cazeneuve said more training has been planned ahead of the
According to senior officials handling Euro security, explosives
sweeps of all fan zones will be done when they open each day, with systematic
pat downs and the possibility of metal detectors being installed at entrances.
Fans carrying large bags won't be allowed inside and the areas will be placed
under video surveillance. Cazeneuve said the state will contribute up to 2
million euros ($1.1 million) for video surveillance in the fan zones.
Organizers announced last month that about 10,000 people had been
privately hired for security, among them 900 agents mobilized for each of the
51 matches. Tournament organizers are in charge of security within stadiums,
with French authorities dealing with it outside, meaning the privately-hired
security officers handling entrances and interior of fan zones will not be
Organizers are looking to hire more people for security but are
confident they will have enough trained by June. France's agency for job
seekers has identified 10,500 people currently on unemployment lists who have
the proper background and experience to work as fan zone guards.
In addition to the risk of extremist-led attacks, organizers also
need to deal with the high possibility of hooliganism. French authorities have
been working with spotters from the qualified nations in order to identify
potential hooligans. Five matches from the qualifying round are treated as high
risk: England vs. Russia, Turkey vs. Croatia, England vs. Wales, Germany vs.
Poland and Ukraine vs. Poland.
England's game against Russia — which has been dealing with
serious hooliganism problems in recent years — will be played in Marseille,
where English and Tunisian fans clashed during the 1998 World Cup.