The home European Championship in Germany begins in around three weeks with the German team’s opening game against Scotland. To ensure that the tournament is a celebration, the police set the highest security standards. Visitors and residents have to be prepared for numerous special features.

The European Football Championship from mid-June to mid-July will be a mass event in the midst of unstable global political times. Stuttgart will host five games. The police have been preparing for this for years. The main focus of the security authorities is on the stadium, the fan zones in the city center, the train stations and the airport. The challenges are different than at the 2006 World Cup. What are the state and federal police planning, what should visitors and residents of the city expect?

“Of course we have typical football phenomena such as hooligans,” says Carsten Höfler, vice president of the Stuttgart police and head of operations during the European Championships. Here it is important to defuse conflicts from the outset, for example by having fan camps meeting points that are far apart from one another. The war in Ukraine and the conflict in the Middle East also play a major role.

Vague terror announcements have been circulating for months. “We take this threat very seriously,” said Höfler. In addition, such a major event could always serve as a stage for protests by dissatisfied people – for example in matters of climate or political nature. Heads of state and ministers will also need to be protected. Possible scenarios are stored for each of these situation areas.

There are new threats that did not exist back then. The authorities are placing a strong focus on the issue of cyber attacks. The tickets for the games, for example, are activated digitally via cell phone. Cyber ​​attacks, for example from Russia during the Ukraine game, cannot be ruled out. Airspace also plays a completely new role. There will be a ban on flights over parts of the city – including for private drones.

“We have invested in technology to detect drones and prevent them from flying in,” says Höfler, without wanting to go into more detail. The police themselves will use drones for surveillance, and special units will also be available. Security around the stadium and Schlossplatz has been upgraded with bollards and other measures.

Of the five games in Stuttgart, four preliminary round pairings have been determined, plus a quarter-final for which one can only theoretically plan so far. “We will probably start the game between Slovenia and Denmark without any problems. “But then there are two high-risk encounters,” said Höfler.

These are the games between Germany and Hungary and Scotland and Hungary. The security forces are particularly concerned about the “serious hooligan scene” in Hungary and that of the Germans. “If hooligans want to compete, we will intervene in a low-threshold and robust manner,” emphasizes Höfler. The Scots are considered peaceful, “but also thirsty,” says Höfler with a smile. And alcohol can be a catalyst for violence in certain situations.

What makes things even more difficult is that not only do Scotland and Hungary meet in Stuttgart on June 23rd, but at the same time the German team plays against Switzerland in Frankfurt. So there are likely to be three fan groups in Stuttgart. The last preliminary round match between Ukraine and Belgium is considered uncritical by the police when it comes to fans, but the political situation here means increased caution.

“Originally, each national association was offered 10,000 tickets for the games in Stuttgart,” says Höfler. It is difficult to estimate how many supporters will arrive without tickets: “It’s always about the overnight and transport capacities.” For the Scots, they expect 50,000 to 100,000 fans. Slovenia is expected to have the fewest supporters.

At the high-risk games in Stuttgart, more than 2,500 additional officers will be deployed staggered throughout the day. The main support comes from the police headquarters, but units from neighboring headquarters and the entire country are also called in. The federal police, which is responsible at the borders, at the airport and in the train stations, will also be present “at maximum strength,” says their EM police chief Thomas Hammer.

The Federal Police are expecting a very high level of fan travel, especially on the rails, because Deutsche Bahn has launched special tickets. “The normal traveler has to be prepared to take a train or two earlier,” recommends Thomas Hammer. It cannot be ruled out that teams will arrive by train, as well as UEFA delegations, state guests or VIPs. This also applies to the airport. “We simply have to take everything into account,” says Hammer. The focus is also on possible problem fans, who you want to slow down as soon as possible when they arrive – ideally at the border, because checks are carried out there too. In rail and air traffic, it is also important to take into account which fan groups are traveling where and when and in what numbers – and where their paths might cross.

Will the EM paralyze the police’s other work? “You don’t have to worry about that. Everyday work in the district continues as normal. The European Championships will only keep them on the sidelines,” affirms Höfler. This is also because the Stuttgart police officers are only allowed to take vacation during the European Championships in justified individual cases. This also applies to the federal police.

The EM has been keeping those involved busy for years. A federal and state project group was founded in November 2019. At the Stuttgart police headquarters, a preparation team now numbering twelve people takes care of all conceivable scenarios.

“We get up with the European Championships in the morning and go to bed with them in the evening,” says Höfler with a smile. The European Championships pose major challenges. “We are bringing in all the skills that the security authorities have in a highly concentrated way.” This includes joint exercises in the stadium or with the Stuttgart hospital. So that we are prepared for anything in an emergency.

By Jürgen Bock

Since she was 19, Anouk has been unable to eat without pain without vomiting. Doctors diagnosed Dunbar syndrome. The 25-year-old explains how much it limits her – but she doesn’t give up hope.

A group of young people is said to have attacked two men in Magdeburg in Saxony-Anhalt, one of whom died. The victim died from life-threatening injuries, police said on Wednesday.

The original for this article ““New threat situations”: What visitors have to prepare for at the home European Championship” comes from STUTTGARTER ZEITUNG.