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Swiss step up security measures for Euro 2008

Fans will be closely monitored in the stadiums during the games Keystone

Switzerland is aiming to be on the ball with its national security concept for the Euro 2008 football championships, officials said on Friday.

The plan aims to offer a climate of cooperation – between the national bodies, cantons and host cities – and hospitality.

“We want to have parties, not be part of a fortress,” said Swiss Sport Minister Samuel Schmid, referring to the championships which are being jointly hosted with Austria.

Schmid said that Switzerland, along with its neighbour, wanted to give the image of a “perfect host”.

“We can only achieve this goal if the occasion passes off smoothly and without disturbances, and if visitors can take home a positive image of our country,” he told a media conference in the capital, Bern.

Schmid stressed that security would best be achieved through cooperation.

The full plan will not be implemented until December 2 this year after the match draw has been announced. Only then will it be clear which countries are playing each other and where the hotspots are likely to be.

The Swiss are expecting up to 3.2 million visitors during the championships. Hooliganism is one of the potential risks, especially around the stadiums, the players’ accommodation and the training grounds. Other places in need of attention are fans’ areas, stations and airports.

Fears of an increase in prostitution were not realised during last year’s football World Cup in Germany, noted the plan, but police checks will be stepped up and prevention campaigns carried out.

Cooperation uppermost

Schmid said that a trouble-free football competition would only be possible if the security teams in Switzerland’s four venues – Bern, Basel, Geneva and Zurich – the cantons, and the government provided a safe framework through “discrete but effective” measures.

Police, border guards, the emergency services and private security firms will be on duty around the clock in June 2008. The concept – which was drawn up by 200 security experts – outlines their duties and gives them a common code of conduct.

“This will be a test for our federal system,” commented Schmid.

The host cities and cantons have overall responsibility for safety and the government is lending its support. The two organisers, the Swiss Football Association and Euro 2008 SA, will be in charge of the stadiums and their immediate surroundings.

Parliament has also given the green light for a maximum of 15,000 army personnel to assist at the championship. The soldiers will protect buildings and secure Swiss air space but will not be used to confront violent football fans.

How much support for Euro 2008 will be drawn from abroad will be decided in December after the match draw. France and Germany have already signalled their support, said Schmid.

The national concept will be continually updated until June 7, 2008.

swissinfo with agencies

15 of the 31 Euro 2008 matches will be played in Switzerland and 16 in Austria.
Switzerland will play the opening match of the tournament at Basel’s St Jakob’s Park on June 7, 2008.
The final will be in Vienna on June 29.
According to Uefa, 1,050,000 tickets will be printed for the 31 tournament games. Three-quarters of the which will be available for fans.
In an initial phase running until the end of March, 350,000 tickets are on sale to the general public via Uefa’s online ticket office, Lots will be drawn to decide the winners if demand exceeds the number of tickets available.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR