Following last week's terrorist attacks on six sites in Paris, including France's national stadium, security is expected to be tightened at athletic events across Europe as soccer teams return to the field this weekend. Nations, leagues and clubs have worked to quell the uneasiness of players and fans alike following the revelation that one of the attackers attempted to enter the packed Stade de France while wearing an explosive vest but was denied entry, upon which he detonated in a blast that killed him and a few others outside.
In the days following the attacks, which killed at least 130 people in all, an exhibition match between Germany and Netherlands was canceled over an apparent terrorist threat. A friendly match between England and France was played Tuesday at Wembley Stadium in London, and featured tributes to the victims of the Paris attacks.
Despite the recent devastating attacks, for which ISIS has claimed responsibility, France is scheduled to go forward with a slate of weekend matchups in Ligue 1, the country's top division. Security will be heightened, however, and no away fans will be permitted to attend matches in order to make the job easier for the country's police force, reported Yahoo. League president Frederic Thiriez said security forces across France were too stretched to allow fans of the away teams to attend matches, according to Yahoo.
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The weekend's biggest matchup is set to take place in Spain, when bitter rivals Real Madrid and Barcelona face off Saturday at Madrid's massive Santiago Bernabéu Stadium. Some 81,000 fans are expected to attend the match, called "El Clasico." Security measures will be similar to those taken during the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games, reported Spanish newspaper Marca. The paper reported that at least 1,000 national police officers will be deployed, as well as some 1,400 private security personnel hired by home team Real Madrid. The total number of officers could exceed 3,000.
"We are on anti-terrorist alert 4 [with 5 signifying a very high risk] and there will be extensive security so as to guarantee that the match takes place with complete normality," said Spain's secretary of state for security Francisco Martinez Wednesday, according to the Daily Mail.
The English paper reported that emergency services and security personnel are expected to form a ring around the stadium. Barcelona captain Andres Iniesta commented on the nervousness surrounding the highly anticipated match.
"The situation generates concern for everybody. It is inevitable [to be concerned], I think we all agree on that," Iniesta said, according to the Daily Mail. "From what I know and what the security forces are saying, all possible measures will be taken and everyone should collaborate so that before, during and after the game a sporting spectacle can take place, and it is the game that is the focus for such a special day for the world of football."
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The English Premier League will boost security, although perhaps not to the extremes in Madrid. The top-tier clubs were scheduled to meet with local police forces to deliver extra security measures at matches this weekend. The league noted there was a "heightened sense of awareness" after the Paris attacks.
“The clubs have been fully briefed in context of the current guidance from national security services and are liaising with their local police forces to ensure the appropriate security and safety measures are in place for their matches and stadiums,” said Richard Scudamore, the Premier League’s executive chairman, according to the Guardian Thursday.
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Team officials in Germany worked to assure fans and players that the weekend's Bundesliga matches would be safe, according to DW. Most notably, Bayern Munich -- the nation's premier club -- released a statement addressing the security at its marquee matchup against Schalke, noting the club had been in contact with authorities and planned to implement "additional, adapted security measures."
"I can confirm that admission controls will be more intensive and thorough in the future," said Jan-Christian Dreesen, club deputy chairman with responsibility for security, in the statement. "In consideration of the security concept agreed with the authorities, I do not wish to comment on any further details. I would ask our fans and all spectators for their understanding that delays are possible when entering the stadium."