Euro 2016 security chief 'cool and confident' despite militant threat

Mon May 16, 2016 10:20am EDT
 
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By John Irish

PARIS (Reuters) - The job of keeping millions of soccer fans safe at one of the world's biggest sporting events would be enough to keep most people awake at night.

Throw in a French state of emergency due to the threat of a militant attack, as well as growing demonstrations against the government, and you would forgive the head of security for Euro 2016 for showing a few nerves just weeks before the tournament kicks off in Paris.

"We're not stressed. We're confident, calm and cool. The objective is to organize things well," Ziad Khoury told Reuters in an interview.

Euro 2016 starts on June 10 and runs for a month at 10 stadiums across France. About 2.5 million spectators are expected for 51 soccer matches involving 24 teams. There will also be "fan zones" for crowds watching games on big screens in major cities.

"This will be the biggest security effort for the public or private sector ever in France," said 46 year-old Khoury.

It all takes place under a state of emergency that gives extra powers to police and security forces in the aftermath of the November attacks by Islamist militants that killed 130 people in Paris and targeted multiple sites across the capital, including the national soccer stadium.

"It's a general threat, which is not specifically for the Euro, but for France, Europe and democratic societies," he said.

Violent clashes have also broken out on almost a weekly basis since March over government labor reform plans to make hiring and firing easier, stretching police forces to their limits.   Continued...

 
Football Soccer - UEFA Euro 2016 soccer tournament - Enghien-les-Bains, France - 20/04/2016. Logo for the upcoming Euro 2016 soccer championships. REUTERS/Charles Platiau