Health and Safety At The European Championships
The European Championships promises to be a fantastic tournament. We should see some great entertainment and football. But after the terrors that Paris and France suffered, safety will be taken very seriously.
Things haven’t got off to a great start. Despite the tragic events in December the great football at the tournament has been marred by fan trouble.
Prior to the tournament English fans were causing trouble in Marseille, with tear gas having to be used in order to control crowd trouble. It is easy to see why England supporters are associated with hooliganisms after the incidents in France.
What dangers are there for fans at the Euros?
Like with any major sporting event, fans have to be sensible and careful whilst at the tournament. There is even more emphasis on the safety of visitors after the horrific terrorist events in both Paris and Brussels. French authorities were testing their terror response units in anticipation for the tournament.
Apart from the obvious threat of terrorism, there are other dangers when at large sporting events. Authorities have taken several different measures in order to promote safety across the country. It has already been announced that almost 100,000 police, soldiers and private security personnel would be deployed across ‘hot zone’s’ during the entire length of the tournament. Law enforcement authorities, will be heavily armed and have been given additional powers under a state of emergency. This allows officers to put anyone they deem a threat under house arrest, as well as stopping public gatherings and tightening border control. These rules have been in place since November’s attacks.
All 10 of the French venues have been placed under protection. Every single one has been declared a no-fly zone, and anti-drone technology has been implemented in order to prevent the threat of remote chemical attack. However, if there are genuine threats to both player or fan safety, then games will be postponed.
Venue safety has already been questioned in the tournament however. England’s first game at the tournament was marred by trouble with opposing Russian fans. A flare was set off which leaves big question marks about what can be brought in to stadiums.
Richard Murray from Arinite health and safety consultants, had this to say: “It was a shame to see so much trouble before games had even kicked off, especially considering the nervousness the nation must be feeling after the December attacks. Fans need to be extra vigilant against any disruptions.”
Health and safety measures in place at the Euros
Fan zones in Europe have been one of the most scrutinised health and safety aspects of the tournament. As thousands of fans swarm into one area, inevitably they will become a target. Public screenings are a prime example of this, and the security budget for them has doubled to nearly £19 million. Despite the target that fan zones can become, an argument against it is that keeping large amounts of people together can be safer than having them spread out throughout an entire city. Fan zones currently have metal detectors installed at all entrances, as well as pat downs, CCTV and sniffer dogs being utilised.
Not only is the safety of the fans paramount, but also players and staff participating in the tournament. Team bases have become somewhat fortresses. Each squad has been allocated 17 officers and two agents from France’s elite special forces specialising in counter-terrorism and hostage situations. Hotels have also been declared no-fly zones.
This is the biggest European tournament in history, so it is disappointing to see fan trouble before the games had even begun. UEFA has already threatened to disqualify both Russia and England after fan trouble at the games. Hopefully everyone can focus on the football and not problems off the pitch.
If you’re heading to the games, be sure to download the UK government’s Be on the Ball safety travel checklist. Lots of handy safety tips in there!