Tuesday 21 January 2020

ISIS cell behind Paris and Brussels attacks planned to target Euro 2016

Irish football fans are planning to travel in large numbers to Euro 2016
Irish football fans are planning to travel in large numbers to Euro 2016
Suspect: Mohamed Abrini AFP/Getty Images

Independent.ie newsdesk

The ISIS cell that carried out the Paris and Brussels attacks were planning to target the Euro 2016 championships.

CNN is reporting that arrested terror suspect Mohamed Abrini told interrogators of the group’s plan to hit the upcoming games in France.

Investigators are working to verify Abrini's claims, a source told the US television network.

Thousands of Irish fans are expected to travel to support the ‘Boys in Green’ as they take on Sweden, Belgium and Italy in the summer event.

Suspect: Mohamed Abrini AFP/Getty Images
Suspect: Mohamed Abrini AFP/Getty Images

Large numbers of supporters from Northern Ireland, England and Wales are also expected to attend the games.

The Euro 2016 tournament, due to run from June 10 to July 10 in cities across France, is one of the biggest international sports spectacles in the world.

Fears had already been raised about the event after the same terrorist cell carried out three suicide bombings outside the Stade de France during a friendly between France and Germany.

Last month Republic of Ireland manager Martin O’Neill said he would reluctantly accept Euro 2016 games being played behind closed doors if the ongoing terror threat meant that was the only alternative.

He said: “If someone wants to make an attack as happened yesterday, it’s very, very difficult to deal with that, but overall the security that we’re being provided with is really excellent and like everything else, I’d comply with anything that is happening.

“There’s talk about matches being played behind closed doors, but the safety of people is of paramount importance and anything that is agreed upon, we will fall in line.

“If that is an alternative and it’s the only alternative, then if we are going to have the competition, we may have to comply with it.”

Heightened security around the tournament is likely to have repercussions for Ireland and their fans around their base in Versailles.

O’Neill said: “If security is tightened, as it probably will be, then maybe the players might have to stay closer to the hotel. I don’t think we want to turn away supporters, but at the same time security, I think people will realise that it might be very, very tight.”

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