22nd March 2016
This summer’s Euro 2016 football championship will be “the most security conscious ever” in the light of recent terrorist attacks in both France and Belgium. The French government, the city authorities and football governing body UEFA have pledged to safeguard the three million visitors attending the matches in Paris between 10th June and 10th July.
High security measures will be implemented around the two city stadiums that are staging matches, on a par with the level of security at airports. One area of the tournament causing concern, however, was securing the “fanzones” planned not only for Paris, but across France. These are large, open areas, where matches will be relayed on a big screen for those fans who don’t have tickets for the stadiums.
Paris is hosting France’s largest fanzone near the Eiffel Tower, where around 120,000 people are expected to congregate to watch games. Following the latest terrorism attacks in Brussels, when 35 people died and 250 victims sustained injuries caused by bomb blasts at the airport and at Maelbeek metro station, it was feared the fanzones would be too high a risk.
However, in the wake of the Belgian attacks, French interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve has announced security will be stepped up around the fanzones, aimed at providing a safe environment for everyone.
This will be achieved by the provision of security fencing around the areas. All those trying to enter must pass police checks at security gates before being admitted, including a metal detector. The length of the security fencing at the Eiffel Tower site alone will measure 3 km.
Emergency personnel, firefighters and police will be on hand, while the area within the perimeter fencing of the fanzones will be searched for explosives and suspect devices every day. Around 900 security guards are being allocated to patrol during each match.
Keeping fans who don’t have tickets in fenced-in, secured zones, where they can be searched and monitored, is viewed as a safer option than having them dispersed across Paris in bars and other public places to watch the football. French government officials said it would be more difficult to watch and safeguard members of the public if they weren’t within a high security area.