PARIS/MOSCOW: French and Russian authorities have outlined plans to step up security at fan zones for the Euro 2016 and 2018 World Cup after this month’s attacks in Paris.
France is due to host Euro 2016 across 10 cities next summer, with Paris set to be the focal point of the tournament through staging games at the Stade de France and Parc des Princes, home of Ligue 1 champion Paris Saint-Germain.
The Stade de France, just north of the capital in Saint Denis, was one of the targets of the attack, which left a total of 129 people dead and around 100 more critically injured. The Stade de France was hosting a France v Germany friendly football match when suicide bombers attempted to enter the stadium.
French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve has said security for Euro 2016, scheduled from June 10 to July 10, will be reinforced to ensure “the fan zones will be put in place”.
Around seven million supporters visited the fan zones in the host cities during Ukraine and Poland’s staging of the last edition of the European Championships in 2012 and there are fears that such sites could be the target for attacks.
Extra security measures, including a possible ban on backpacks or reinforced video surveillance, will be added to secure the fan zones, with the extra costs being shared between organisers, local authorities and the French state.
The president of the Euro 2016 organising committee, Jacques Lambert, said local authorities will have a lot of “flexibility” in the way they stage the fan zones, with the possibility of scrapping some of them if necessary.
“Until July 10, we will live with a Damocles sword upon our head,” Lambert said, according to the Associated Press news agency. “But we will assess the level of threat on the competition and we will adapt.”
Former Prime Minister Alain Juppe, the Mayor of Bordeaux who heads the host cities’ association, said fan zones could even be part of the security measures for the tournament.
“Without fan zones there would be a risk to see people scatter in the streets of our cities for gatherings even more difficult to secure,” Juppe said.
Security is also a concern in Russia, which is currently dealing with the aftermath of the October 31 plane crash in Egypt which left 224 people dead, the majority of whom were Russians.
The 2018 World Cup Local Organising Committee (LOC) management board, with Fifa participation, met in Moscow with security on the agenda for the 2017 Confederations Cup, along with the main event itself.
LOC chairman Vitaly Mutko, who is also Russia’s Sports Minister, said: “We realise that due to the circumstances in the world special emphasis should be put on security. We discussed this topic in detail, and the colleagues from Fifa asked us to give a special focus on Fan Fests in this regard. This is under special control.”
He added: “We have encountered the problem of security, and examined it in detail. Now the security measures will naturally be strengthened in connection with the circumstances in the world.”
Meanwhile, Mutko has maintained that Russia’s budget for the 2018 World Cup will remain unaltered, while admitting that Kaliningrad’s stadium project is encountering delays.
The Russian Sports Ministry in August proposed an increase in the budget for preparations. The two-per-cent increase added about R12.5bn (€180m/$190.9m) to the budget, taking the total allocated for preparations to R644bn. The original budget of R664.1bn for the tournament was unveiled in 2012 before cuts.
“Considering the LOC budget, its optimisation has already been processed,” Mutko said. “For us it was important to keep all the agreed amount of financing, and that we stay within the budget.”
Russia has selected 11 host cities to be the venues for the matches of the 2018 World Cup. Moscow will stage games at two venues, with the other host cities being St. Petersburg, Sochi, Kazan, Saransk, Kaliningrad, Volgograd, Rostov-on-Don, Nizhny Novgorod, Yekaterinburg and Samara.
Mutko added: “Kaliningrad has a delay. The Kaliningrad government devised a project, which was not approved. The project is now under consideration of the experts again. We look forward to a favourable conclusion of the stadium project shortly. We hope that work will catch up within the year and will continue according to the plan which was identified before.”
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