18th February 2016
Concerns about fan violence and a terrorist threat have meant organisers are thinking carefully about security arrangements for football’s forthcoming European Championships in France. The huge Fan Zones which will be set up throughout the country are potential trouble spots, with supporters of various rival teams congregating together to watch many of the matches, with no security fencing in place.
The terrorist attacks in France late last year have brought about a new wave of issues on security, with the Paris Fan Zone, in particular, a subject worrying organisers.
On the whole, however, the Fan Zones are thought to be a positive arrangement. Organiser Fabienne Soulas of the Saint-Denis district, which is home to the Stade de France national stadium, said that containing a large number of fans in one area made sense, telling AFP: “Otherwise there will be gatherings all over the place, in cafes, and it will not be easy for the police.”
Of the ten cities that are hosts in Euro 2016, which is the first major international football tournament played in France since the FIFA World Cup in 1998, the idyllic beachside location of Marseilles is expected to attract the most supporters to its Fan Zone, with as many as 80,000 expected to attend. Officials will be hoping there was no repeat of the skirmishes in 1998 when England fans were blamed for much of the trouble that flared in the city’s streets.
The next most popular Fan Zone is expected to be in Bordeaux, with organisers having predicted 60,000 fans flocking to the site. England, Croatia, Spain, Belgium and the Republic of Ireland all play matches at Bordeaux’s Nouveau Stade, meaning some of the largest fanbases will descend on the city.
It is expected that the municipal councils, UEFA and the French government will combine their resources to meet the additional security costs which are expected to spring up. Of course, it is UEFA’s responsibility to guard team transportation and accommodation, but who foots the bill of the Fan Zone security costs is, at the moment, a thorny issue which must be resolved soon.