Security at the last European Championships

The French Ministry of the Interior has just published a report explaining how the security system used at the Euro football championships was organised during the duration of the tournament in June and July in France.

There was great concern about the possibility of a terrorist group (especially in the context of Islamic State) carrying out some nature of attack as the football tournament progressed. The extensive media coverage of the event and of particular national teams meant that it would be a perfect target for an attention-grabbing act of terrorism.


All elite units available were mobilised: the Research and Intervention Brigade (BRI in French) the Paris police service; the Research, Assistance, Intervention, Dissuasion Unit (RAID) of the National Police service, and groups of intervention of the National Gendarmerie Intervention Group (GIGN).

One particular team was thought to be a high-risk objective, and this was the Spanish team which was exclusively monitored by the BRI. Members of the Spanish police force also took part and there was a liaising offer with the French national police. Any movement by any member of the squad had to be planned and security services had to be informed. During the match against Croatia, which was regarded as a high-risk event because groups of Croatian fans had threatened to invade the pitch, members of the BRI took position in key areas of the stadium to detect any dangerous movement by fans once the Spanish team had got to the stadium.

The RAID was responsible for the security of eleven national teams: France, England, Russia, Turkey, Albania, Croatia, Wales, Czech Republic, Romania, Slovakia and Switzerland.

The GIGN was responsible for the remaining twelve teams: Germany, Belgium, Portugal, Austria, Hungary, Ireland, North Ireland, Iceland, Italy, Poland, Sweden and Ukraine.

The other team which, for obvious reasons, received special protection (possibly top level) was France, which was protected by RAID 24 hours. This protection was total: when travelling, during matches and training sessions, and in their accommodation. The Bleus were followed and preceded by men in black in vehicles. The changing rooms of the stadiums were inspected before the players arrived. This monitoring exercise demanded a great ability to adapt to the players’ movements at all times.

Obviously, apart from protecting national teams, there were other units to oversee public order (Republican Security Companies and the Gendarmerie Mobile) and public security in cities where games were being played, which involved uniformed patrols by national police agencies and also local police forces (in cities where there were none). All these units were coordinated as far as possible with the elite units responsible for protecting members of national squads.


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