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Lambert: Empty Euro 2016 stadiums not an option

Euro 2016 president Jacques Lambert and France sports minister Thierry Braillard have ruled out the possibility of playing games in empty stadiums due to terror threats.

France has been on high alert since a series of co-ordinated terror attacks in November, in which the capital’s landmark stadium – the Stade de France – was targeted during a friendly match between the hosts and Germany.

The European Championships will be played throughout France between June 10 and July 10 with 10 stadiums across the country set to host 24 teams.

Tournament director Martin Kallen was quoted by Germany’s Sport Bild as saying organisers and French security services had discussed a number of options in terms of dealing with terror threats and that included the change of venues on short notice or playing in front of empty stadiums.

But president Lambert and Braillard have ruled out such options.

“It’s not an option I’m working on as president of the organisation,” Lambert told RTL.

“It is quite legitimate for the UEFA services considering all assumptions. We have crisis scenarios to try to deal with all the cases that may arise, including matches carrying over from one day to another.

“Remember in Euro 2012, France v Ukraine was almost postponed because of a colossal storm.

“The empty stadiums hypothesis is a working hypothesis.

“I say it is not an option for two reasons. We do not organise Euro 2016 for that, but to provide entertainment to people, not to play in front of empty stands.

“There was never any option taken in this direction by the highest level of UEFA, president, executive committee… those kinds of decisions are highly political decisions, it cannot simply be the result of study at a level administrative by UEFA.”

Braillard backed up Lambert’s claims, saying: “At this point, it seems to me impossible.

“The interior ministry worked for months or years with the organising committee for security.

“There was November 13, but I remind you that since the attacks, there was a game at the Stade de France and everything went very well.

“I remind you that on November 13, the safety device of the Stade de France has worked very well. There has been a victim, but there could be many more if security system was not complete.”

Fri 4 Mar, 2016
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