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French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said. ‘At this time, we will mobilize all of our forces’

July 14th, 2018 | by Richard Paul
French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said. ‘At this time, we will mobilize all of our forces’
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France peaks on high alert with Beyonce visit, Bastille Day and the World Cup finale

‘We couldn’t mobilize more forces than we will mobilize this weekend,’ French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said. ‘At this time, we will mobilize all of our forces’


French President Emmanuel Macron takes his seat while his wife Brigitte Macron looks on before attending the traditional Bastille Day military parade on the Champs-Elysees avenue in Paris, France, Saturday, July 14, 2018.Philippe Wojazer/Pool Photo / ASSOCIATED PRESS

Beyonce and Jay-Z are just two of the millions of people under a massive security umbrella this weekend in France that will peak with the World Cup final.

Some 110,000 police officers are deploying nationwide for Bastille Day celebrations on Saturday, when a military parade on the Champs-Elysees and fireworks at the Eiffel Tower in Paris, and balls in many cities, mark France’s main national holiday. On the capital’s outskirts, the two American superstars will perform at the 81,000-seat Stade de France soccer stadium.

On Sunday, soccer fans nationwide will be rooting for the national team to take its first World Cup trophy in 20 years in the final against Croatia. If the French win, the team would return to Paris on Monday for a victory parade on the Champs-Elysees that would probably draw more than 1 million fans.

“We couldn’t mobilize more forces than we will mobilize this weekend,” French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb told reporters on Friday. “At this time, we will mobilize all of our forces.”

Most of the biggest betting firms and exchanges in the U.K., Ireland and beyond are placing a 65 percent or better chance on France winning the World Cup.


France and Croatia fans play a friendly match at the Red Square in Moscow on July 14, 2018 on the eve of the Russia 2018 World Cup final football match between France and Croatia.French forces will particularly seek to protect the “fan zones” where soccer supporters will gather Sunday. In Paris, there’s space for 90,000 fans at the foot of the Eiffel Tower. More than 230 fan areas are set up across France, from big cities such as Lyon and Bordeaux to smaller ones like Nantes and Angers, with each requiring security precautions. Jewel Samad /AFP/Getty Images

About 12,000 police officers will be in action in Paris, from anti-riot units to plainclothes officers patrolling the streets of the capital. Military patrols, which have been protecting sensitive sites against terrorist attacks for several years, will be beefed up. Medics and 44,000 firefighters will be mobilized, too. Two Tour de France stages also are scheduled this weekend.

The capital’s police chief said the celebrations will take place amid a “real terrorist threat.” Parts of Paris will be closed to vehicles throughout the weekend and potentially on Monday. The Eiffel Tower is closed on Sunday for security reasons.

While France has been hit by a series of attacks in the last few years, only one happened at a celebration or a special event: on Bastille Day in 2016, an attacker in Nice ran down 84 people with a truck. That’s kept security officials focused on the risk of having vehicles and large crowds in the same place.

Traffic will be limited, especially on Monday, if France wins the World Cup as authorities want to keep vehicles away from the celebrations. When France won its first trophy in 1998, people in cars flooded the Champs-Elysees, creating a security nightmare.

French forces will particularly seek to protect the “fan zones” where soccer supporters will gather Sunday. In Paris, there’s space for 90,000 fans at the foot of the Eiffel Tower. More than 230 fan areas are set up across France, from big cities such as Lyon and Bordeaux to smaller ones like Nantes and Angers, with each requiring security precautions.

— With assistance from Bloomberg’s Dara Doyle

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