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SPORTS

Fearing Terrorist Threat, Greek Police Set Up Security for Soccer Match

ATHENS – Greek law enforcement officials have a new worry on their hands about a soccer match and it’s not hooligans, but terrorists, leading police to plan tight security measures for the game between Olympiakos and Italy’s Fiorentina on May 29.

That is the UEFA Conference League final with sports in Europe seeing extra protection over Israel’s war against Hamas terrorists in the Gaza Strip which has led to massive pro-Palestinian demonstrations, including in the United States.

Citizen Protection Minister Michalis Chysochoidis led a meeting at the Hellenic Police (ELAS) headquarters to go over security plans for the game after Greek law enforcement officials went to Belgium for a game between Brugge and Fiorentina and meet UEFA brass.

Greece is concerned about potential terrorist threats from Islamic State, which is why authorities will ask for Europol’s assistance and will be in contact with foreign counterparts to identify potential extremists, said Kathimerini.

Greek officials will add security layers at the stadium and hotels where the teams and UEFA executives will be staying as well as downtown Athens and commercial areas where crowds gather, which could be at risk.

There’s also anxiety about hooligans who show up at big games, especially as Olympiakos made the final and has a reputation for raffish fans who can become violent and clash with those from other teams.

About 9,000 Greek fans are expected for the game at the OPAP Arena, home of the local rival AEK where nearly 100 Croatian fans were arrested in the summer of 2023 ahead of game against AEK and a Greek fan was stabbed to death in a brawl.

Greek police said they will have special routes to the stadium for the fans to follow in order to prevent clashes between Olympiacos and AEK hooligans although authorities have been unable to stop riots.

Besides a big police presence for the event it’s also expected that authorities will use drones, helicopters and special bomb disposal units but details are being worked out to try to be prepared.

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