COPENHAGEN – The Paris police chief wants more security staff to protect fans at the 2016 European Championship, which starts next week, France’s interior minister said Friday.
Minister Bernard Cazeneuve, speaking to The Associated Press, denied a report that police chief Michel Cadot suggested closing the Paris fan zone any time there was a Euros match at either Paris stadium for security reasons.
“Mr. Cadot did not say that,” Cazeneuve said in his first public comment on the report about possibly closing the fan zones. “Cadot informed me of the conditions under which he could organize it, meaning the extra staff necessary to be perfectly capable of ensuring security.”
Paris is one of 9 host cities in France for Euro 2016. Closing any Euro 2016 fan zone would contradict weeks of government insistence that authorities have security under control during the June 10-July 10 soccer tournament that mesmerizes Europe. An unprecedented 90,000 police, soldiers, private guards and others ensuring security will be involved, according to the French government.
Cazeneuve said French authorities “are working now on adjusting staffing to ensure maximum security.” He did not say how many more security personnel Paris has asked for.
The French government has declined to give estimates for the overall cost of the security, though has said 24 million euros ($27 million) are being spent on fan zones in the nine cities.
He reiterated that authorities are ready for possible violent attacks or hooliganism.
“I cannot guarantee we will not have a confrontation with terrorists,” Cazeneuve said at an event organized by the Danish Foreign Policy Society.
But he rejected calls to postpone or switch the tournament away from France.
“If we are doing that (calling it off), we are meeting the terrorists’ will. We will never do that,” he said.
In recent days, France has seen widespread flooding, strikes affecting rail traffic and causing gasoline shortages and violent labour protests since the government began pushing through a labour reform law.
This version corrects that there are only 9 host cities, not 10.
Associated Press writer Angela Charlton in Paris contributed to this report.