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EURO 2024: How safe will the European Football Championship be?

EURO 2024: How safe will the European Football Championship be?

The situation surrounding the European Championships could hardly be more difficult. Security forces are not only preparing for possible terrorist attacks.

Millions of guests from all over the world, full stadiums and crowds at public viewing: the European Football Championship from June 14th to July 14th poses enormous challenges for the German security authorities.

Compared to attending Bundesliga games, guests have to be prepared for stricter controls. Experts are preparing for various threat situations. The German Press Agency answers the most important EM questions on the subject of security.

How many fans are expected in Germany?

The seats around the ten host stadiums and the fan miles will be full. “We will see 2.7 million fans in the stadiums and up to 12 million fans in the fan zones in the ten host cities,” said Federal Interior Minister Nancy Faeser. According to reports, 2.5 million guests are expected in Berlin. For example, up to 130,000 visitors are expected to flock to the fan mile at the Brandenburg Gate, which contributed to the huge success of the 2006 World Cup.

What controls do stadium visitors have to be prepared for?

Guests enter the arenas in two steps. At the entrance to a first, outer security ring, the exclusively electronic tickets on visitors’ mobile phones are visually checked by security personnel. The person and the items they brought with them will also be searched there. The ticket is checked at the turnstile at the subsequent inner security ring. “If the check is successful, the person is searched and has a valid ticket on the stadium grounds,” said the organizing committee.

What threats are there?

The escalation in the Middle East and the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine could influence the tournament. However, there are many other risks at large events with corresponding media attention. “Our focus ranges from the threat of Islamist terror, to hooligans and other violent criminals, to cyber attacks,” said Faeser. The organizing committee added that weather-related circumstances such as extreme heat, mass panics or technical incidents also posed risks.

Which places are particularly at risk during the EM?

In security research, a distinction is made between hard and soft targets. “Stadiums, as closed buildings with their access and security controls, are more likely to be among the former. Therefore, attacks on soft targets in public spaces such as stadium entrances, fan miles or public viewings are more likely, as securing large crowds is more difficult here,” said terror expert Johannes Saal German press agency and cited the attack in Brussels as an example. Two Swedish football fans were shot on the sidelines of the European Championship qualifier between Belgium and Sweden in 2023. The Islamist terrorist militia Islamic State claimed responsibility for the crime.

How are the federal and state governments preparing for possible dangers?

The so-called International Police Coordination Center (IPCC) in Neuss is intended to evaluate security-relevant information about the tournament and to exchange information between the federal and state governments. In addition to police officers, there is room for experts from the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, the Federal Intelligence Service and the cybersecurity authority BSI. According to the BMI, this involves general, organized or politically motivated crime, hooliganism or accompanying demonstrations in the area around the venues.

What other security measures are there?

As is usual with such major events, the German borders will also be more strictly controlled during the European Championships. However, this will not mean lowered barriers, but rather random checks. Germany had already introduced temporary border controls for the 2006 World Cup, among other things. To secure the tournament, we also work closely with participating and neighboring countries. “The federal police are supported in their deployment by well over 300 foreign police officers from the participating nations. There is particularly close cooperation with France for the European Football Championship in Germany and the Olympic Games in Paris,” said a BMI spokesman.

Source: Stern

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