Eiffel Tower fan zone should be closed during Paris matches for security, says police chief

Fan Zone Eiffel

Fan Zone Eiffel

The office of Paris police chief Michel Cadot recommended Thursday that the Eiffel Tower fan zone be closed for security reasons during matches played in and around the capital during the Euro 2016 championships.

France is set to host the Euro 2016 championships from June 10 to July 10, with some 2.5 million football fans expected for the 51 matches to be held at stadiums across the country involving 24 national teams.

Numerous fan zones will be set up so everyone can enjoy the carnival atmosphere of the big games on giant screens in major cities, and the flagship Eiffel Tower zone was expected to welcome 100,000 on match days.

However, the Paris police chief has questioned the safety of the Eiffel Tower fan zone.

“The police chief did express his reservations and asked to close the Eiffel Tower fan zone during matches at the Parc des Princes and the Stade de France,” Stanislas Gaudon of the National Police Alliance Union told TV channel iTele on Thursday.

The Parc de Prince is located in southwestern Paris while the Stade de France is on the northern outskirts of the capital.

State of emergency

The country remains under a state of emergency after militants killed 130 people in coordinated assaults on cafés, the Stade de France and a music hall on November 13, 2015.

Paris security forces will receive reinforcements to protect the fan zones, and the interior ministry has said some 90,000 police, soldiers and private security agents will be deployed to ensure the safety of the tournament. The UK deployed approximately 13,000 police officers and 17,000 soldiers for security at the 2012 Olympics.

Police stretched

Aware of the pressures on the police force to secure fan zones and stadiums, a security committee has “reinforced the resources that will be available to the police chief … to ensure an optimal level of security at all these sites”, Cadot’s office said.

Security experts and police officials have said protecting those areas will be the biggest challenge due to a lack of resources.

Police officials told Reuters that French security forces are exhausted and stretched to breaking point after the numerous operations in the wake of the terrorist attacks, violent labour protests and a continuing migrant crisis.

Islamic State group militants threatened a campaign of bomb attacks on large crowds in France, the head of the DGSI internal intelligence service said on May 19.