The European Soccer Championship just kicked off today amidst concerns of disruption from rioters, hooligans and terrorists. Despite taking unprecedented security measures, the threat of an attack remains at an all-time high in France.
Here’s how France plans to prevent major disruptions for the Euro 2016:
Revamped Security Setup and Systematic Searches at Stadiums
Following the November terror attacks, the UEFA required that the French set up measures to screen guests as they entered the stadium. Under this new setup, guests will have restrained access to the Stadium of France, with only four gates being opened.
As part of the new security measures, the Stadium of France is now encircled by a 2-meter tall wall and multiple checkpoints at the gates to filter out visitors. Besides metal detectors and video cameras, manual searches will be conducted to detect risks.
Unfortunately, the measures proved fallible as exemplified recently during the finals between Olympique Marseille and Paris Saint-Germain on May 21. The event, which was an occasion for security forces to test the system, backfired when unruly supporters caused major disruptions before and during the match. In addition, gates with limited access caused bottlenecks that considerably slowed down guests at the entrance and exit of the stadium.Image Source: France Tv Sport
The unfortunate fact is that the new setup didn’t prevent chaos to occur: the searches and filtering system proved useless as visitors were able to smuggle in smoke bombs, firecrackers, helmets, and glass bottles that were thrown off during the match. As the image above shows, a fire was even caused at the stadium tribune.
Both the Interior Minister and the Prefect of Paris acknowledged that the measures were “not functioning”, but they were hard at work to find more suitable solutions ahead of the Euro 2016.
Beefed Up Security Forces Across Host Cities
The French government will also deploy additional police staff to achieve heightened security during the championship. Under this new measure, 3,000 policemen will be dispatched in Paris to supplement the 10,000 men already present in the inner suburbs.
That isn’t all: 80,000 men will be mobilized throughout the country to mitigate the risk of an attack, including 75,000 policemen, 2,500 firemen, 1,000 first-aid workers, and 300 bomb-disposal experts. The French government has also hired 13,000 private security contractors to monitor high-traffic “fan zones” as well as 10,000 members of the military Operation Sentinelle to monitor transportation.
Despite the reinforcements, some police unions expressed their concerns that the Paris area isn’t equipped to properly protect the incoming flow of visitors.
Risk Management Unit Monitoring Threats 24/7Image Source: Faits Nouveaux
The French government also set up a risk monitoring unit that will oversee threats 24/7. It will aim to analyze and prevent current risks and threats in real time before each game match, and the venues where they will be held.
The unit will bring together information professionals working on both national and foreign operations.
Border Control and International CooperationImage Source: Lexpress
The French government took administrative measures to prevent the entry into France of violent fans banned from stadiums in their own countries. So far, 2,335 individuals deemed sensitive were denied entry to the French territory.
Furthermore, in order to assist the effort of French security forces, some 180 police officers from the 23 countries participating in the competition will also be deployed as reinforcements to help track down the hooligans during the Euro 2016.
Smartphone App To Prevent AttacksImage Source: DW
The French Interior Ministry also created a smartphone app that sends real-time alerts about possible terrorist attacks. The app was unveiled two days before the kickoff of Euro 2016.
This app is called “SAIP”, and is free for download using an iPhone or Android, for both the French and English languages. The app will use geolocalization data to track users and send them warnings in case of a suspected attack based on their location. France intends to maintain the app even after the Euro 2016, as the country is still plagued by the threat of terrorism.
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