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Despite France’s efforts Euro 2016 will be held in a climate of fear

Stade-de-France-securityAn expanded competition, new-comers on the International stage and a nation that adores football in an era when social sharing and technology are at the forefront of all major events.

On paper, Euro 2016 has the makings of being the latest sporting and digital success. If Brazil 2014 was the breakthrough moment for the internet of things from a football perspective, Europe’s premier international tournament will become the latest benchmark.

Yet for all positivity that surrounds the tournament, there is a murky undercurrent. The November terrorist attacks in Paris are a noose around the tournament’s neck.

The French government revealed they will deploy a 90,000-strong security force for tournament, the news coming hot on the heels of revelations from Mohamed Abrini that ISIS initially planned to attack during Euro 2016.

The 90,000 force will include 42,000 police and 30,000 paramilitary gendarmes as well as 13,000 private security agents. The tension around certain games will be very noticeable and there is the potential for over-reaction at the hint of foul play, jovial or otherwise.

The nervousness around the tournament will hopefully not feed through to fans; many of whom will travel to France without tickets. The advice from consulates around Europe is, go, have fun, but be careful.

While the threat of terror attacks is very real. The arrival of so many fans, some of whom have links to hooliganism is another worry for French authorities.

According to French sports daily L’équipe, the French Government has identified 5 games with a high potential for hooliganism. These are England vs. Russia, Turkey vs. Croatia, England vs. Wales, Germany vs. Poland and Ukraine vs. Poland.

While those games in particular will be signalled out. Each game will have stringent checks with body searches carried out and a ban on carrying large bags into the stadium.

The teams involved at stadiums will have to up their game severely though. Despite the tension and nervousness over security, cracks appeared in a semi-test run during the May 21st French cup final.

Despite being searched by security guards, fans managed to smuggle in glass bottles, smoke and stink bombs and firecrackers.

The failed checks highlighted some of the lengths fans will go to bring paraphernalia into games with the president of the private company involved in the security checks revealing that smoke bombs were hidden in sandwiches in place of sausages and pushed through openings in the chain-link fence surrounding the Stade de France.

Steps have been implemented to avoid a repeat with a tarpaulins placed on the fence; but those that incite fear in people are smart and evolve.

France is rightly nervous, but how that is managed and feeds through to the everyday fan will lead to the success of the tournament.

 

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