Football: Uefa’s backup plan on closed-door Euro

A woman walks past a Euro 2016 sign in Lyon, France, one of the host cities for the Euro 2016 football competition.
A woman walks past a Euro 2016 sign in Lyon, France, one of the host cities for the Euro 2016 football competition. PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Uefa has drawn up plans to relocate Euro 2016 matches or play them behind closed doors if the football tournament is threatened by terrorist attacks.

With the finals 99 days away and France still in a state of emergency after the devastating attacks on Paris last November, when 137 people were killed, Uefa, European football's governing body, admitted that it has been forced to make contingency plans.

With 51 matches taking place in cities across France over a one-month period from June 10, the tournament director admitted on Tuesday that, even though there has been no intelligence gathering of any specific threat, security is a concern.

"Security always comes first," Martin Kallen, the Euro 2016 tournament director, told Sport Bild, the German magazine. "We would not do anything that would endanger people.

"With the government, we have played through several different dry-run scenarios in order to be prepared to (address) what to do if a game has to be postponed because of the terrorist threat.

"We would move the game - at the latest to the next day - and then the question would be whether to play with or without a crowd."

He added that matches could be played behind closed doors "if we had to relocate a game to another city because of the terrorist threat".

"Spectators who have tickets for this game might not be able to make it (to a relocated fixture) at such short notice, to travel and to get a hotel," he said.

"To put it bluntly, security and the implementation have priority over everything else."

Key matches, including the opening game and final, will be staged at the Stade de France in Saint Denis, just outside Paris, which was one of the targets of the murderous Nov 13 attacks.

Matches are also being held in Paris, Bordeaux, Lens, Lille, Marseille, Nice, Saint Etienne and Toulouse.

THE TIMES, LONDON, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 03, 2016, with the headline 'Uefa's backup plan on closed-door Euro'. Print Edition | Subscribe