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Swiss pass Euro 2008 security audit

(Keystone)

Switzerland's Euro 2008 security strategy is on the right track, but needs better coordination and communication with fans, an independent report concludes.

An international panel of football security experts believes the European championship co-hosts can organise a safe tournament in June provided they fine-tune some areas of the security plan.

Security expert Professor Otto Adang of the Netherlands led a team of observers that inspected four football matches in Zurich, Basel, Geneva and Bern between August and December last year. He presented the "security audit" findings in Solothurn on Tuesday.

"All four host cities are on track with their preparations and if the strategy is implemented in the way it is designed there is no reason why it shouldn't work," he told swissinfo.

Adang, the European Union advisor on policing at international football matches, said coordination between the various police and security agencies could be improved. Some officers needed a better understanding of the three-pronged "dialogue, de-escalation and intervention" strategy, he added.

Coordination is particularly important between Switzerland and police officers drafted in from neighbouring Germany and France, Adang emphasised.

He also called for improved dialogue between police and fans from participating countries at the Euro 2008 tournament.

Adang told swissinfo that he was generally positive about Switzerland's security arrangements. "If these points are addressed there is every possibility that there will be a joyful and peaceful tournament," he said.

Fan contact

Adang stressed that the key to success is for security forces to establish a positive relationship with fans. This "friendly but firm" approach proved a success at the 2006 World Cup in Germany and the European championship in Portugal two years earlier.

"It is important that not all fans are treated as potential hooligans, but as people who are here for a good time – which is what 99 per cent of them are here for," he said.

"Switzerland has invited people to come here so it should behave like good hosts until people stop behaving like good guests."

Martin Jäggi, head of Swiss security for the tournament, said he would act on the areas of concern highlighted by Adang.

"I am very pleased with the positive findings of this report. We still have to improve, but we have enough time to make these corrections. We must seek a more proactive contact with fans to build a relationship of trust," he told swissinfo.

Police in the host cities plan to provide more information for fans in the shape of flyers, the internet and handbooks. Foot patrol officers will be encouraged to seek more contact with supporters.

Police in Basel will also change their kit, ditching their normal orange vests, to avoid confusing Dutch fans that will be based in the city.

Switzerland co-hosts the Euro 2008 football tournament with Austria from June 7-29. Adang's report only covered the Swiss host cities of Zurich, Basel, Bern and Geneva, and did not include Austrian venues.

swissinfo, Matthew Allen in Solothurn

In brief

Switzerland's three-pronged security strategy mirrors the successful plan implemented in Germany during the 2006 World Cup. Organisers have said the tournament should be a "feast, not a fortress".

The aim of the strategy is to develop cordial relations between police and fans while acting decisively should trouble break out.

In addition to police, private security firms will be present at stadiums and in fan zones.

Between 500 and 1,000 police officers from France and Germany will be drafted in during match days and to provide extra liaison with fans.

In the case of an emergency, about 15,000 army troops have been made available to the host cities, an offer that Geneva has declined. Should they be needed, soldiers would guard infrastructure rather than confront rowdy fans.

end of infobox

Security Audit

Otto Adang's team monitored security arrangements as Switzerland played the Netherlands in Geneva in August, and versus the United States in Basel in October.

It also inspected the match between Young Boys and FC Zurich in Bern in November, and the Zurich derby played the following month.

The security audit looked at strategy, coordination and implementation, but it focussed on the overall picture rather than analysing stadiums and other details.

It also does not look ahead to potential high-risk games during Euro 2008.

end of infobox


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