Today the European Football Championship starts in France. Football fans and tourists will for the next month put their mark on the largest cities in the country.
But with the championship comes a great fear of terror.
“The level of threats has never been so high as today in regard to the Islamic State and other jihadists,” says Jean-Charles Brisard, chairman of the Paris-based Center for the Analysis of Terrorism. “So the timing is a real challenge for everyone.”
Ever since the terrorist attacks in Paris on Friday 13 in November last year, there has been a state of emergency in France.
President Francois Hollande has said that terrorism is the greatest security threat to the country - and to the European Championships.
- Arenas, football stadiums and large public events showing matches are potential targets for terrorists, says Prime Minister Manuel Valls.
The security of the hundreds of events and dozens of matches will therefore be enormous. Over 90,000 security staff personnel will for the next few weeks be working to ensure that security is good.
Nevertheless, officials are determined not to let the stringent security checks get in the way of the sporting celebration. “The matches are of course all going ahead and the fan zones are maintained,” Prime Minister Manuel Valls said this week. “Why? Because it’s very important at a time of threat to show that life goes on.”
Yet there are reasons to remain nervous. Both U.S. and U.K. officials have issued travel warnings ahead of the festivities, saying that there is the risk of a terror attack.
But hopefully there will be no injuries other than on the football field.
The matches will be played in Paris, Bordeaux, Lens, Lille, Lyon, Marseille, Nice, Saint-Denis, Saint-Etienne and Toulouse.
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