French and Russian authorities to increase fan zone security

PARIS (AP) French and Russian authorities plan to increase security at fan zones at next year's European Championship and the 2018 World Cup following the attacks in Paris.

French Interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve said Tuesday security for Euro 2016, scheduled from June 10-July 10 in France, will be reinforced to ensure ''the fan zones will be put in place.''

Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko, who chairs the organizing committee for the World Cup, said there was a particular focus on protecting crowds gathered in fan zones.

''Today our colleagues from FIFA focused on us paying more attention to the fan zones,'' Mutko said. ''Of course that will be done.''

Fan zones are typically set up in squares or parks near the center of the city, allowing supporters to watch a game on a big screen. Security can be lighter than at stadiums.

The plan is part of a general tightening up of security for the World Cup, Mutko said following a meeting with FIFA representatives, including interim secretary general Markus Kattner.

''We have encountered the problem of security, and examined it in detail,'' Mutko said. ''Now the security measures will naturally be strengthened in connection with the circumstances in the world.''

About 7 million supporters visited the fan zones in the host cities during Euro 2012 in Ukraine and Poland. Following the attacks in Paris and at the Stade de France on Nov. 13, there are concerns the designated Euro 2016 areas for the public in each of the 10 host cities could be a target of choice for potential attackers.

The fan zone in Paris is expected to be located on the Champs de Mars, below the Eiffel Tower, with a capacity of 120,000 supporters.

Extra security measures, including a possible ban on backpacks or reinforced video surveillance, will be added to secure the fan zones, with the extra costs being shared between organizers, local authorities and the state.

The president of the Euro 2016 organizing committee, Jacques Lambert, also attended the press conference at France's interior ministry. He said local authorities will have a lot of ''flexibility'' in the way they organize the fans zones, with the possibility of scrapping some of them if necessary.

''Until July 10, we will live with a Damocles sword upon our head,'' Lambert said. ''But we will assess the level of threat on the competition and we will adapt.''

Former Prime Minister Alain Juppe, the mayor of Bordeaux who heads the host cities' association, said fan zones could even be part of the security measures for the tournament.

''Without fans zones there would be a risk to see people scatter in the streets of our cities for gatherings even more difficult to secure,'' Juppe said.

While the Paris attacks have led to security crackdowns across France and nearby countries, Russia is dealing with the aftermath of the Oct. 31 plane crash in Egypt which left 224 people dead, almost all of them Russians.

The World Cup in Russia involves 12 stadiums in 11 host cities across the European part of the country, while the 2017 Confederations Cup will take place in four Russian cities.

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Ellingworth reported from Moscow.

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