Security raised for Champions League ties after threat

  • By Sean Seddon and Ruth Comerford
  • BBC News


Security tightened ahead of Wednesday’s quarter-final in Paris

Security will be beefed up at Champions League matches this week after a media outlet supporting the Islamic State group published threats against the venues.

A pro-IS media channel published several images calling for attacks on stadiums hosting the quarterfinals on Tuesday and Wednesday.

UEFA said it was aware of the threats but said matches in Madrid, Paris and London would go ahead as planned.

French and Spanish ministers confirmed enhanced security measures.

French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin said security measures would be “considerably reinforced” during PSG’s match against Barcelona in Paris on Wednesday.

Mr Darmanin continued: “I remind you that only 10 days ago, IS shared a photo of the Munich stadium and said that action should be taken against sports venues that host football matches – even if all sports can be targeted. Given the importance of the Champions League, it is for football, we are of course discussing with our partners.”

Two quarter-finals are due to take place in Madrid this week. Real Madrid host Manchester City on Tuesday, while Atletico Madrid face Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday.

Pilar Alegría, Spain’s sports minister, issued a message of “calm” ahead of the Madrid games and said “more than 2,000 police and civil guard officers” were being deployed.

Madrid’s acting mayor, Inmaculada Sanz, told Spanish media there was no specific threat, adding that Spain’s terror alert level was four out of five, which is classified as high risk .

“These announcements are usually propaganda actions aimed at provoking fear,” she said.

“Both the security forces and the intelligence services are studying any possible threat, but nothing suggests a situation of particular risk.”

Arsenal face Bayern Munich in London on Tuesday. Metropolitan Police Deputy Commissioner Ade Adelekan said: “We are aware of reports online and in the media of calls to target matches across Europe and here in London.

“However, I would like to reassure the public that we have a robust policing plan in place for tonight’s match and continue to work closely with the club’s security team to ensure that the match takes place peacefully.”

The pro-IS channel called for violent attacks and broadcast images from the Emirates Stadium in London, the Bernabeu and Metropolitano stadiums in Madrid, as well as the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris.

The threatening jihadist images shared this week did not refer to any particular match or event and were published by pro-IS media groups not officially linked to the organization itself.

It is believed, however, that the order to publish the threats may have come from IS itself, as its leaders have recently hinted at close coordination between state media and their online supporters.

Image source, Getty Images


Matches will be played in Paris, London and Madrid this week

Content inciting attacks against channels with long-standing links to the group has increased following the attack on the Moscow concert hall last month, according to specialists at the BBC’s Monitoring service.

Another image shared last week depicted Munich’s Allianz Arena, which is set to host Bayern Munich’s second leg against Arsenal next week.

A spokesperson for European football’s governing body said: “UEFA is aware of the alleged terrorist threats made against this week’s UEFA Champions League matches and is liaising closely with the authorities at the respective venues .

“All matches are expected to go ahead as planned, with appropriate safety measures in place.”

Germany is set to host the Euro 2024 European Championships later this year.

Asked last month about threats to stadium security, German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said “the dangers have reached a new level.” “The State is arming itself even more strongly against all current threats,” she added.

Ahead of Arsenal’s match against Bayern Munich at the Emirates Stadium, a spokesperson said venue staff were “working closely with the Metropolitan Police regarding the safety and security of all supporters and stadium staff. Emirates Stadium for all our matches.

“Our planning for tonight’s match is no different and our approach, working with the police and UEFA, is proportionate to the UK’s current threat level.”

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