Canadian Security Magazine

France loses Euro 2016, but can claim security victory

By Elaine Ganley for The Associated Press   

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PARIS — France has lost the Euro 2016 soccer championship but can claim victory on another front: making it safely through the monthlong tournament that drew fans from all over Europe while in a state of emergency and on high alert for Islamic extremist attacks.

The Eiffel Tower was closed Monday, the company that runs it said, following clashes before and during Sunday’s final.

Police used tear gas and water cannons before the final in clashes with groups of people upset that the nearby fan zone was full and closed. Trash cans and scooters were set alight, and doused out by firefighters, police said Sunday.

About 40 arrests were made in the area and around the Stade de France where the last game was played, police said early Monday.

Keeping France safe was a task involving tens of thousands of security forces in 10 cities. For the final alone, when France lost 1-0 to Portugal, there were 1,900 police in the fan zone near the Eiffel Tower.

Thousands more were deployed on the famed Champs-Elysees, used for victory parades, and at the Stade de France, one of the venues hit in November’s Paris attacks that killed 130.

While fears mounted before the June 10-July 10 start about the potential for more extremist attacks, French police quickly found themselves dealing with another problem: hooliganism.

Matches early on in the tournament, most notably the 1-1 draw between England and Russia in Marseille on June 11, were marred by hooligan violence. The clashes in Marseille left dozens of fans and police injured and the cobbled streets of the Old Port strewn with broken glass from smashed beer bottles.

France had mobilized about 90,000 security agents around stadiums, fan zones and streets to keep fans safe. Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve also kept his ministry’s crisis room open throughout the tournament to help monitor events and co-ordinate responses should action be necessary.

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