The NFL announced Saturday that it will have an increased security and law enforcement presence at games this weekend, a response to terrorist attacks in Paris that included explosions outside France’s national soccer stadium. After three suicide bombers targeted Stade de France, the NFL is taking no chances.
The league said in a statement that it has been in communication with the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI since Friday’s attacks and that there are no known threats against NFL stadiums. An excerpt from the statement, provided by NFL Network, details the National Football League’s reaction.
“Following the events in Paris on Friday, we are closely monitoring events and have been in communication with the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI, which have informed us that there are no known threats against NFL stadiums.”
[Photo by Rich Schultz /Getty Images]
According to reports by the Wall Street Journal, at least one of the attackers outside France’s national soccer stadium had a ticket to the game and attempted to enter the 80,000-person venue, according to a Stade de France security guard who was on duty and French police. The guard — who asked to be identified only by his first name, Zouheir — said the attacker was discovered wearing an explosives vest when he was frisked at the entrance to the stadium about 15 minutes into the game. France was playing an exhibition against Germany inside.
While trying to escape, the attacker detonated the vest which was loaded with explosives and bolts. A police officer confirmed the sequence, adding that police suspect the attacker aimed to detonate his vest inside the stadium in order to provoke a deadly stampede.
Another person exploded a vest approximately three minutes later. Another attacker detonated their explosives at a McDonald’s nearby.
The blasts occurred during the first half of the game, causing confusion throughout the stadium. At least two blasts were heard clearly inside the stadium, witnesses said, and on the television broadcast. Loud blasts aren’t uncommon at soccer matches on the European continent where fans sometimes set off firecrackers. It was unknown for some time that the blasts were from the vests of the attackers.
The attacks came seven months before France is set to host the month-long European soccer championships.
“I thought it was just a firework, then my friends told me what was going on in Paris,” said a French fan as the grim reality of Friday’s deadly attacks suddenly hit home.
The attackers’ names are not yet known. But a report by the Express Tribune claims that the Islamic State ordered the series of coordinated attacks by suicide bombers and gunmen in Paris that killed at least 128 people at a concert hall, restaurants, and the national sports stadium.
“The safety of our fans, stadium personnel, and teams at all NFL games is our priority, and security at our games is robust. Our procedures have been certified and designated by the Department of Homeland Security since 2008 as effective anti-terrorism technology. All NFL clubs use mandatory metal detector screening and multiple layers of perimeter security external to the stadium to safeguard fans and the stadium from explosive threats.”
The league also said a moment of silence will be held before all games this weekend to honor the victims. Each broadcast network will carry the moment of silence and the National Anthem live on its respective network.
In addition to the measures already in place, there will be increased law enforcement from local authorities both inside and outside the stadiums. In order to insure a safe experience for spectators, the NFL will be working closely with team security personnel.
[Feature Photo by Doug Pensinger / Getty Images]