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Amid concerns, France readies for kick-off

sports Updated: Jun 01, 2016 08:14 IST

PARIS: Nationwide protests by rail and oil refineries workers triggered by widespread dissatisfaction with labour reforms, threats by terrorist organisation Islamic State and overall concerns over security issues — the French government has its hands full as the clock ticks down to June 10, the day the Euro 2016 kicks-off.

France is already in a state of Emergency since November 2015 and the country’s parliament extended the status further to cover the upcoming Continental football extravaganza and Tour de France.

The situation is expected to exacerbate further as the country’s leading labour union announced plans to organise national protests during Euro 2016, that the country’s interior minister said has the potential to “bring France to a halt”. Workers of Paris Metro have also announced plans to strike during the tournament.

Transport Minister Alain Vidalies made his appeal as unions confirmed their determination to hold strikes and marches against government plans to make it easier for employers to hire and fire.

“I seriously cannot imagine that the railway workers would run the risk of bringing France to a halt during such a crucial period,” he told France Info radio. “The Euro (tournament) is highstake and everybody should keep in mind that nobody in France ... would understand if all this damaged France’s image.”


While the government is braced for another round of nationwide unrest, security experts have warned that France is “clearly targeted” by the Islamic State group which could launch a “terrorist campaign” of bombings in places where big crowds gather. The chief of France’s premier security agency last week informed a parliamentary panel that the country faces serious threat from IS as the terrorist organization is seeking revenge for the reversed it suffered in Syria.

The French government and local authorities have promised to fix any lapses. It is also planning to declare no-fly zones over all 10 stadiums as well as training grounds for the 24 teams. Plans are afoot to deploy antidrone technology to interfere with and take control of any flying machines that violate no-fly zones over stadiums.


However, away from all this, France’s football team is hoping to emulate the 1998 team and emerge triumphant at home.

Rather like 1998 World Cup-winning coach Aime Jacquet, Didier Deschamps is using a pragmatic, all-about-the-team approach to Euro 2016 as hosts France look to capture their first major title since Euro 2000.

Deschamps, who captained Les Bleus in 1998 and 2000, left out Karim Benzema after the Real Madrid striker was embroiled in an alleged blackmail scandal and did not even consider Franck Ribery after the Bayern Munich forward hinted he could be willing to come back.

Defender Mamadou Sakho was not considered, either, as Deschamps would not risk losing the Liverpool player to a suspension after he was provisionally banned for failing a dope test.

First Published: Jun 01, 2016 08:14 IST