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France

Euro fans zones spark security concerns

Policemen take part in a mock suicide attack exercise as part of security measures for the upcoming Euro 2016 football championship, at the Parc Olympique Lyonnais stadium in Decines-Charpieu, near Lyon, central-eastern France, on May 30, 2016.
Policemen take part in a mock suicide attack exercise as part of security measures for the upcoming Euro 2016 football championship, at the Parc Olympique Lyonnais stadium in Decines-Charpieu, near Lyon, central-eastern France, on May 30, 2016. JEFF PACHOUD / AFP

Big screens are being erected around France to allow football fans to watch the Euro 2016 championship in a near stadium-like atmosphere. But these open air screens are also attracting a lot of concern, as the government contemplates how to keep them safe.

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Security will be tight at the Euro 2016 soccer tournament this June. Incoming fans can expect to rub shoulders with 77,000 police officers and 12,000 private agents, who have been mobilized to monitor big outdoor screens in at least ten towns.

These screens meant to allow fans to gather in huge numbers to watch the action from afar, are proving to be a serious security concern for authorities.

France has already boosted controls in and around the Stade de France for its friendly matches, since the Paris attacks by militant Islamists on November 13 that killed 130 people.

And it's the fan zone in the Paris capital that has prompted the most fears. With its 420 square-meter plasma screen, it can attract as many as one million people.

Trying to keep them all safe has become a logistical nightmare for the government.

Prime minister Manuel Valls has assured that these fans zones will be secured in the same way as the stadiums. However, he insisted that if the government got wind of any threat, it wouldn't hesitate to shut down the fan zone in question, he was quoted as saying in the daily Le Figaro.

Between seven and eight million people are expected to converge on the ten fans zones around the country. Protecting them all, could cost the government some 24 million euros.

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