Security is “top priority” as Germany prepares to host European championship

With the 2024 UEFA European Championships under a month away, security forces across Germany are ramping up.

The host nation will be charged with protecting some 2.7 million fans, 24 team base camps, and ten stadiums where 51 matches will be played between June 14 and July 14.

Designated fan zones are also expected to attract around 12 million visitors.

To ensure public safety, Germany has invited 300 security experts from all participating nations to collaborate as part of the International Police Cooperation Centre (IPCC) in the western city of Neuss.

Alongside officials from Germany, Europol and European football body UEFA, they will take turns to monitor the situation on the ground, gathering during the tournament in a 500-square-metre (5,382-square-foot) conference room equipped with 129 computers and a 40-square-metre screen.

“From the outset, security has been our top priority,” tournament director Philipp Lahm told AFP.

Oliver Strudthoff, director of the IPCC, said that “Each country knows its troublemakers better than any other, and the foreign experts present in Neuss will be able to identify them more quickly.

“The size of the delegations will depend on the number of fans and how potentially dangerous they are. England, for example, will have many more representatives than Switzerland.”

The British government has said that more than 1,600 English and Welsh supporters who are hit with stadium bans because of previous violent behaviour, will be banned from travelling to Germany during the tournament.

However, over 300,000 fans of England and Scotland are expected to head from the UK for the month-long tournament.

Germany will introduce security controls on all of its nine borders and police have been forbidden from taking leave during the tournament.

“On trains and in stations, the federal police will be visibly stepping up their presence,” said a spokesman for the German interior ministry. The same applies to airports.

French gendarmes will support the German police by taking part in joint rail patrols on routes to and from France and at matches involving the French team.

German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser has also said the Ukrainian national team will be subject to enhanced security.

Between 800 and 1,300 police will be deployed around the stadiums at each match, depending on the teams playing.

In a bid to prevent anyone from entering a match with weapons or explosives, three security perimeters will be set up around each stadium.

For those driving, cars will be checked at the first barrier, fans will have their bags searched at the second, before scanning their tickets at the third.

The fan zones present another security challenge, especially the largest one at Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate which is set to welcome tens of thousands of visitors for every match.

The German army will monitor the sky from the National Air Security Center, located some 70 kilometres (44 miles) from the IPCC.

The use of drones will be closely monitored, with flight restriction zones.

The championship presents various “soft targets”, such as fan zones, because “it’s easier for perpetrators to infiltrate (them) and take action”, said Johannes Saal, a security expert at the University of Lucerne.

Germany’s answer is to increase their security and surveillance.

Their message is clear: if you’re not coming for the football, stay home.

GGFN | Oscar O’Mara

 

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