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German Police on High Alert for Potential Violence at England vs. Serbia Euro 2024 Match

German police are preparing for potential violence at England’s first Euro 2024 game against Serbia on Sunday, as they believe up to 500 Serbian hooligans may attempt to cause disruptions.

Security Measures and Concerns

Peter Both, the chief of police in Gelsenkirchen, has stated that the main challenge will be intercepting this group before they can clash with England supporters in the city. The match will take place at the Veltins Arena, home to 2. Bundesliga club Schalke, at 9 pm local time (8 pm BST).

An estimated 40,000 English fans and 5,000 to 8,000 Serbian supporters are expected to attend this high-risk match, as designated by UEFA after consulting with police from Germany, Serbia, and the UK.

German Police Preparedness

While German police do not have specific intelligence on the exact number of potential troublemakers, Both expressed concerns about the presence of violence-seeking individuals. More than 1,000 German police officers will be on duty, supported by hooligan spotters and a riot unit, although water cannons will not be deployed.

To prevent known hooligans from England from attending, over 1,600 fans with football banning orders have been required to surrender their passports from June 4 until the final on July 14. Both praised the cooperation with UK authorities in preventing these individuals from traveling but acknowledged that some may still make it to Germany.

Cooperation with Serbian Authorities

Coordination with Serbian police has not been as smooth, according to Both. German police will begin temporary checks along the country’s borders starting Friday to manage the influx of fans.

Inside the Veltins Arena, England fans will be allowed to drink, but not in the stands, and will be limited to buying two drinks at a time. Outside the arena, fans will be encouraged to use a free shuttle bus to a fan zone at Trabrennbahn racecourse to avoid overcrowding the city center.

Handling Offensive Chants

Both assured that his officers would not react to the singing of offensive songs such as “Ten German Bombers.” He stated, “We will approach all the English supporters with an open mind, and I expect all my colleagues to treat them fairly and proportionately. We will only intervene in the event of any criminal or public safety incident.”

Additional Security Concerns

Organizers of Euro 2024 are also wary of potential terrorist attacks or attempts by Russia to incite violence. There will be a ban on the use of drones throughout Gelsenkirchen on match day, with police equipped to down any unmanned aerial vehicles. Both emphasized that while there is a general terror threat in Europe, there is no specific intelligence indicating an imminent attack related to the tournament.

Enjoying Euro 2024 Safely

Both reassured all attendees, “We say to all our guests, don’t let [the fear of terrorism] happen. Enjoy your stay in Germany, and the German authorities are well prepared.” The focus remains on ensuring a safe and enjoyable experience for all fans attending Euro 2024.

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