France said Wednesday it will deploy more than 90,000 police and security guards for Euro 2016, vowing to do “everything possible to avoid a terrorist attack” during the football tournament that starts next month.
The announcement followed chaos on Saturday at the Stade de France national stadium when smoke bombs were set off during the national cup final, sparking panic.
Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve told the sportsdaily L’Equipe that the match between Paris Saint-Germain and Marseille should not be considered a test for Euro 2016.
“They were not the same spectators, not the same organisers, nor the same security deployment,” he said.
“However, what happened will be taken into account” ahead of the month-long football tournament, which kicks off on June 10 with matches to be played at 10 venues around the country.
Cazeneuve later wrote on Twitter that 77,000 police and paramilitary police would be deployed, along with 13,000 private security guards.
Some of the 10,000 soldiers deployed around France since last year’s jihadist attacks in Paris will also be used to secure the matches, he said.
“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,” he said.
“We are doing everything to avoid a terrorist attack, and we are preparing to respond.”
The Stade de France, which will host the opening game and final, was targeted by suicide bombers during the attacks by the Islamic State group on the French capital in November. The assailants tried unsuccessfully to get inside the security perimeter.
– No ‘specific threat’ –
Cazeneuve said security inside the stadium is the responsibility of UEFA, while safety at the “fan zones” — which will accommodate seven million people — will be in the hands of private security agents.
“Fan zones are secure spaces,” he said. “I took the decision to impose security pat-downs at entrances, to use metal detectors and to ban bags inside. If there were no fan zones, fans would regroup in an ad hoc setting and the risk (of an attack) would be greater.”
Despite the beefed-up measures, the interior minister said there was no particular threat against the football tournament.
“At this time we do not have a specific threat to a specific team or a specific player, a specific match, or a specific fan zone,” he said.
He added that protests would not be banned but did not rule out possible disorder as the country is gripped by a major labour strike.
“It remains an open possibility… that security cannot be guaranteed by law and order forces.” – Agence France-Presse