French president François Hollande warned Sunday that this year’s Euro soccer tournament, to be held in France later this month, could be subject to terrorist attacks.
During an interview with a public radio station France Inter, Hollande conceded that the soccer tournament could serve as an opportunity for terrorists to attack, but reiterated his government’s commitment toward making the widely popular Euros a success.
“This [attack] threat exists. But we must not be daunted… We must do everything to ensure that the Euro 2016 is a success.”
The French president’s comments come shortly after Europol director Rob Wainwright said that he had “no doubt” that terrorist organizations, including ISIS, were looking at Euro 2016 as a potential target.
“I have no doubt that the Euros are on a potential target list for IS, for obvious reasons. That’s a pretty obvious assumption. The threat is high, I think.”
“But to counter-balance that threat, I see a huge amount of security preparations being taken by the French authorities, with extra police and military drafted in.”
Paris was the site of a series of deadly attacks on November 13 last year when a group of gunmen and suicide bombers killed 130 people across the French capital. One of the attacks took place outside the French national team’s stadium Stade de France, with reports later confirming that the terrorists intended to carry an attack inside the stadium. As BBC reported back then, a man wearing a suicide belt was reportedly prevented from entering the stadium after a routine security check detected the explosives.
With more than 2.5 million spectators expected to pour into stadiums during the tournament, which is scheduled to begin on June 10, France is bracing itself for one of the most high-profile sporting tournaments in recent history. But the country seems to have stepped up its preparations for the tournament following the November attacks, with more than 90,000 police, soldiers, and private security agents to be deployed across the country to ensure safety for the Euro 2016 soccer tournament.
French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve told Yahoo last week that the country is confident of hosting a safe and successful tournament.
“Such a unique event in exceptional circumstances requires extra security measures,” he said.
The scrutiny surrounding the security at Euro 2016 will not abate before France can wrap up conducting a safe tournament. Over the course of the last few weeks, multiple sources have confirmed that the tournament is high on the list of possible terror targets, with RT even reporting that out of the 3500 individuals already hired for the job of ensuring the safety of visitors, 82 people are on French terror watch lists.
In such a scenario, there is little doubt French authorities will have their work cut out, but security experts have warned that terrorists could use the opportunity to even attack other possible targets. With a lot of attention being given to the security surrounding the competition in France, some fear that other European countries could find themselves prone to such attacks.
And therefore, conducting a successful Euro 2016 does not only remain a priority for France, but for Europe in general. Because more than just ensuring people’s safety, a successful tournament will also show that the continent is prepared to defend itself from acts of terrorism.
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