March 2, 2006

Hooligans seen as top security concern for World Cup

THE HAGUE (Reuters) - Hooligans are the main concern for
the June soccer World Cup in Germany but the terrorist threat
cannot be overlooked, according to the head of an European
Union-wide police task force.

"The main problem is hooliganism and violence inside and
outside the stadium," said Erik Buxbaum, the Austrian police
chief who will chair discussions on Thursday with counterparts
from the bloc's 24 other national police forces.

"For such a big event, all police forces in Europe have to
cooperate," Buxbaum told Reuters in an interview, citing the
need to exchange information on hooligans' movements and send
national liaison officers to Germany.

Police must also take a close look at the terrorism threat,
even if there are no indication of attacks yet, Buxbaum added.

"Such an event may be a target for terrorism," he said,
adding that for now: "We have no information in that sense."

The availability of low-cost flights and the likelihood of
many thousands of fans turning up for games without a ticket
are factors which have prompted fears about violence at the

Swedish Justice Minister Thomas Bodstrom also raised
concerns last week that the presence of thousands of fans could
lead to a rise in prostitution and trafficking of women to meet
the demand, but Buxbaum played down those fears.

"Human trafficking is not so important ... it is a general
problem, not a specific problem for the World Cup," he said.

The EU police task force gathers police chiefs from each of
the 25 EU member states, the director of Europol and other EU
officials. They regularly meet but do not take formal

The German police chief will make a presentation of
security preparations for the World Cup on Thursday, Buxbaum