herald

Wednesday 28 September 2016

Alcohol ban may be extended if football violence persists

Fans party in Montmartre
Fans party in Montmartre

Irish fans will be watched by armed paratroopers and paramilitary police as they make their way through Paris for Ireland's first game of Euro 2016 this evening.

French authorities have ordered a ban on all alcohol sales in "sensitive areas", including some designated fanzones in response to the violence that erupted in Marseille and Lille.

The French, in a crackdown on suspected organised football hooliganism, have also banned the transportation of alcohol close to the venues on match days.

Fans caught drinking near venues or even carrying alcohol risk being arrested, and it is believed the ban may be extended to all host cities on match days.

France's Interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve warned that violence would not be tolerated.

"It is absolutely necess- ary that the national federations whose supporters create incidents of this nature be punished for what happened inside the stadium and also outside," he said.

Today, thousands of sec- urity forces personnel will be patrolling Paris with a zero-tolerance approach.

Checkpoints

The 130,000 Irish fans who have descended on Paris have been warned to give themselves plenty of time to get to the Stade de France, where three security checkpoints are in place.

The stadium was targeted by radical Islamic terrorists before a French match seven months ago today, one of several attacks that left 130 people dead city-wide.

A greatly increased security presence has been evident in the French capital since the weekend violence in Lille and Marseille.

However, officials in Paris were quick to praise the Irish fans.

Mayor Anne Hidalgo paid tribute to the well-behaved supporters and said it was "precisely the kind of atmosphere the championships wanted".

A Paris police spokesman said they were unaware of any violence involving supporters staying in the city.

"There have been no problems. It is not like Marseille," he said.

Ireland's ambassador to France, Geraldine Byrne Nason, said a repeat of the scenes involving England supporters was "clearly not" what Euro 2016 needs.

"We want people to come here and have fun. We also want them to be safe," she said.

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