Spanish officials promise heightened security for Saturday's Clásico
MADRID (AP) — Spanish officials are promising unprecedented security measures for Saturday's soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona following the attacks in Paris.
At a special security meeting prompted by last week's events in France, officials declared the league match between the rivals a high-risk event and announced they will double the police presence at the game in Madrid.
Spain's secretary of state for security said after Wednesday's meeting that the measures will be "more than enough" to guarantee the safety of all of those involved in the game at Madrid's Santiago Bernabeu stadium.
Francisco Martinez said fans should "trust" the local police forces and the security measures that will be in place, and should plan on attending the match with "normality" and "tranquility."
"We want to make sure the fans can enjoy this event with safety," Martinez said. "We will do what's necessary to make sure nobody can try to promote terror or try to change the way we live our lives."
It's not uncommon for the high-profile Clásico to be labeled a high-risk game, but usually it happens because of threats of fan violence, not terrorism.
The extraordinary meeting in Madrid happened only two days after the cancelation of Spain's friendly against Belgium in Brussels because of security concerns, and a day after the friendly between Germany and the Netherlands was called off because local government officials said there was a serious threat of a bomb at the stadium in Hannover.
Spanish officials said that for now there was no reason to consider cancelling the highly anticipated league game, which marks the first encounter by the two sides this season.
"There will be an operation without any precedents when it comes to sporting events," Martinez said. "We have to maintain normality, but without forgetting the situation in which we are in."
Full details of the security operation were not immediately made available, and its full scope would only be discussed in another meeting on Thursday, but officials said that nearly 1,500 private security agents will be working during the game, as well as least 1,000 national police officers — double of what would normally be available for other similar high-risk games. Several security zones will be implemented outside of the Bernabeu, keeping those without tickets or credentials away from the 81,000-capacity venue.
"The measures will be enough, more than enough," Martinez said. "We will have all the needed measures in place to guarantee the absolute normality for this event."
Officials said fans do need to plan on arriving at the stadium well in advance, as the added security measures are expected to cause unusual delays.
The fixture at the Bernabeu has been targeted by extremists in the past.
In May 2002, an ETA bomb exploded near the venue hours before a Champions League semifinal against Barcelona, slightly injuring 17 people. In 2004, the stadium had to be emptied because of a bomb threat late into a Spanish league game against Real Sociedad, forcing its postponement to a later date.