MARSEILLE, France (AP)French authorities in Marseille have ordered a partial ban on alcohol sales and banned Frankfurt fans from traveling on their own ahead of Tuesday’s high-risk Champions League match at the Stade Velodrome.
Less than a week after violent crowd fights marred a match between Nice and Cologne in the Europa Conference League, the likely mass arrival of thousands of Frankfurt supporters in the south of France is raising fresh concerns.
Frankfurt supporters have been allocated 3,300 seats for the game but the German club believes that as many as 5,000 additional supporters without tickets, among them hardcore ultras, could make the trip to Marseille.
Frankfurt’s passionate fans often travel in great numbers and they were involved in clashes last season during the club’s victorious Europa League campaign.
To limit the risks of violence, the regional police administration for the Bouches-du-Rhone in southern France said the sale of alcoholic beverages will be banned in several districts of the seaport city Tuesday from 2 p.m. until the game’s kickoff at 9 p.m.
Pointing out the risk that Marseille fans could try to attack Frankfurt supporters roaming in small groups, the police prefecture ordered that only the Frankfurt fans traveling in official buses placed under police escort will be allowed to access the Velodrome and its surroundings.
It will be Marseille’s first home game in the Champions League this season.
Thursday’s Europa League match between Rennes and Turkish club Fenerbahce will also take place amid increased security. The Brittany club said it decided to limit its stadium’s capacity to 19,000 people – including 1,350 away fans – following a series of meetings with UEFA and French officials. Rennes’ stadium has a capacity of 29,778 seats.
A series of violent incidents in stadiums last season in the French league has led authorities to take measures to boost security. But the recurrent incidents, including the chaos at the Champions League final, have raised concerns in France and abroad about the country’s ability to host major sporting events, especially ahead of the rugby World Cup next year and the 2024 Olympics.
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