German security gears itself for World Cup test

16th May 2006, Comments 0 comments

16 May 2006, BERLIN - Authorities in Germany are setting up a security zone for the duration of the World Cup with tens of thousands of soldiers, border controls and closed circuit television.

16 May 2006

BERLIN - Authorities in Germany are setting up a security zone for the duration of the World Cup with tens of thousands of soldiers, border controls and closed circuit television.

"Whoever wants to be disruptive, should stay far away," Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble of the CDU party warned. Although there is no concrete indication of danger from terrorist attacks, right- wing extremist ambushes or hooligan riots, the authorities cannot rule anything out.

Nevertheless, football fans should be able to experience "a cheerful, open nation," Schaeuble assured. The head of the World Cup Organising Committee, Franz Beckenbauer, said he had not seen any police officers during the 1966 World Cup in England, "apart from bobbies for controlling traffic". But times have changed.

For months, there have been repeated waves of alleged dangers. During a conspiratorial meeting in the Alps, Neo-Nazis had planned some action for the tournament, Italian media reported. The so-called Public Viewing Areas, where matches are broadcast on huge screens, are at the highest risk of attacks.

Hooligans, of whom 6,000 are known to police as ready to use violence, pose the most direct threat. The Central Sports Intelligence Unit (ZIS) at the Criminal Investigation Office in North Rhine-Westphalia is receiving thousands of tips from authorities in nations competing in the World Cup.

The ZIS plans round-the-clock measures against foreign hooligans, if they have not already been stopped at the borders or in airports where people from states who have brokered the Schengen Agreement will also be arriving for the World Cup.

As early as May 2005, German interior ministers at state and federal level agreed on a so-called National Security Concept which foresees close circuit television in public places, holiday bans for police and international cooperation. The 30,000 federal police officers deployed during the World Cup will be backed up by 320 foreign security forces.

The German army is to keep 7,000 troops including nuclear, biological and chemical weapons forces at the ready to protect residents and World Cup guests. Airspace during matches at World Cup venues will be closed in a radius of 5.4 kilometres. Authorities are focusing especially on matches involving England, the Netherlands, Poland, Iran and the United States.

So that the hundred thousand, harmless football fans are not too disturbed by disrupters, police have a 120 page guide to anticipate behaviour. They are learning figures of speech in 16 languages and tips on etiquette to ensure that they appear decent, friendly and representative when officials and fans come face to face with each other.

In the past months, rescue services worried over a serious lack of security detected during several large-scale manoeuvres. Outdated radios and a lack of training in the use of communications technology hindered the success of the manoeuvres.

Three years ago, the interior ministry had announced that a new digital network would be used during the World Cup - but now looks likely to be introduced in 2010. A brutal attack on a German- Ethiopian man in Potsdam, east Germany, in the run-up to the World Cup, illustrated the danger of racist attacks on foreigners.

The Africa Council for the Berlin-Brandenburg region plans a catalogue of no-go areas for black people to avoid. The head of the Green party, Claudia Roth, who regularly sounds out the anti-fascist scene, said: "We have to be prepared for Nazi demonstrations during the World Cup."


Subject: German news

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