Wednesday 17 January 2018

Authorities order ban on sale of alcohol in fan zones after outbreak of hooliganism

Tempers flare between rival fans in the stands. Photo: PA
Tempers flare between rival fans in the stands. Photo: PA

Ralph Riegel and Wayne O'Connor

French authorities have ordered a ban on all alcohol sales in "sensitive areas" including some designated Euro 2016 fan zones in response to the violence that erupted in Marseilles and Lille.

In a crackdown on suspected organised football hooliganism, the French government has also banned the transportation of alcohol close to the venues on the days of matches.

Fans caught drinking near venues or even carrying alcohol now risk being arrested.

The sale of alcohol in fan zones in Lille and Marseilles has been immediately banned.

However, it remains to be seen whether the ban will hit the Paris fan zone by the Champs de Mars, where the atmosphere has been both good-humoured and friendly.

The Paris fan zone has been marked by incredibly tight security - there are large numbers of uniformed and undercover police as well as armed French soldiers stationed at a discreet distance from the area.

France has been horrified by the level of violence witnessed in Marseilles and Lille - and the fact that it appears to have been organised and exploited by some hooligans.

Some Russian fans have been accused of dressing like English fans to cause further mayhem, while social media has reacted with outrage to photos of a minority of German fans displaying Imperial war flags and offering right-wing salutes.

Some Russian fans have also posted photos of blood-soaked English flags like trophies.

French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve warned that the violence would not be tolerated - and that alcohol sales in sensitive areas were being suspended as a result.

The French have also warned that a widened ban, which could also hit cafes and bistros near the match venues, could be considered.

The ban will take effect in the 48 hours before major matches in each venue city.

"It is absolutely necessary that the national federations whose supporters create incidents of this nature be punished for what happened inside the stadium, and also outside," Mr Cazeneuve said.

It comes as extra armed paramilitary police were drafted in to patrol the Stade de France ahead of Ireland's game against Sweden this evening.

More than 130,000 Irish fans have descended on Paris for the European Championships.

Fans are being warned to give themselves plenty of time before heading to the stadium - with three security checkpoints in place outside the Stade de France.

The stadium was targeted by terrorists seven months ago in attacks that left 130 people killed in city-wide attacks.

Irish Independent

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