UEFA Euro 2016 security outlook

UEFA Euro 2016 security outlook

By Kit Nicholl, Analyst, IHS Country Risk

Increased security measures at Euro 2016 reduce the likelihood of successful attacks but fail to comprehensively neutralise the threat. A vast security operation will be mounted in order to ensure the safety of spectators. In March 2016, organisers decided to further increase the security budget by 15%, bringing the total to EUR34 million (USD36.9 million).

Security arrangements at the stadia and fan-zones will include two security perimeters, with airport-style security. As well as pat-downs and bag checks, spectators will have to pass through metal detectors. Snipers will also be stationed at vantage points around stadia.

France remains under a State of Emergency following the November attacks, which grants security services a number of additional powers. Police forces are able to conduct raids and searches without a warrant, place suspects under house arrest, place restrictions on public movement, ban public gatherings, and close national borders. A total of 2,235 raids were conducted in the three weeks following the November 2015 Paris attack. IHS expects similar widespread counter-terrorism operations in the week preceding the tournament, raiding the houses of suspects and potentially placing them under house arrest even with minimal evidence. This is particularly likely to be the case in host cities.

The cancellation or postponement of matches remains a possibility if security services obtain information pointing towards a specific and imminent threat. The threshold for abandoning games will be lower than it has been in the past.

Protest risks

Euro 2016 is likely be affected by protest movements. There have been widespread mass protests in France since March 2016 against highly controversial labour reforms which are seen as watering down workers' rights.

There is also a high likelihood that protesters will aim to disrupt the tournament, in order to force the government's hand. This is likely to come in the form of road blockades, impeding access to city centres, stadia and/or airports. Based on civil unrest intelligence events collected by IHS over the past year Paris, Lille, Toulouse, Marseille, and to a lesser extent Lyon, are most exposed. The risk of transport disruption in these host cities is therefore high, and is likely to be further exacerbated by strikes in the transport sector.

Violence between different fan groups occurs relatively frequently in Europe, at both national and international matches. There were significant incidents of fan violence during Euro 2012 in Poland and Ukraine, most notably on 12 June between Polish and Russian supporters that resulted in 184 arrests and at least 24 injuries. Improvements in stadium logistics, and better crowd control and policing practices, mean that confrontations between hooligans now tend to occur either in proximity to the stadium or in public spaces in the city hosting the match. Incidents of fighting in Marseille on 9 June involving English fans confirm that the current Euros are likely to further such confrontations.