Tightened security rolled out for French sports

  • 20/11/2015
Police outside the Hannover Stadium before Germany-Netherlands was called off (Reuters)
Police outside the Hannover Stadium before Germany-Netherlands was called off (Reuters)

Following last week's mass postponements in response to the Paris terror attacks, France will gingerly resume their sporting fixtures this weekend.

Security will be increased across the board while anxiety levels will also be noticeably different.

Almost all sport, professional and amateur, is starting up again, but one notable exception is the European Champions Cup rugby clash between Stade Francais and Munster, which was due to take place in Paris on Sunday.

A decision was taken on Tuesday to postpone the match so as not to tie up important police resources in the French capital.

"Following the recent tragic events, Stade Francais Paris does not wish to weigh down or complicate the job of the government and police by organising a sporting event attended by 15,000 people at the Stade Jean Bouin," the Top 14 club said in a statement.

In fact, rugby is perhaps the sport most affected by the attacks as Stade Francais's local rivals Racing 92 have also been forced to move their Top 14 league match against Toulouse, slated for the following weekend, away from the Stade de France national stadium.

That was one of the sites affected by the deadly attacks -- that left 129 people dead and hundreds of others injured -- as three suicide bombers detonated their bomb vests near the stadium, killing themselves as well as a bystander.

But across the rest of France, rugby matches will go ahead, starting on Thursday night with Gloucester's trip to La Rochelle in the European Challenge Cup, while on Friday Agen and Montpellier are also at home in that same competition, entertaining Edinburgh and Calvisano respectively.

Giants Toulouse host fellow Top 14 outfit Oyonnax in the Champions Cup at their Ernest-Wallonn ground on Saturday with extra security planned.

There will be an increased police presence while security checks at entrances will also be stepped up, meaning a more diligent inspection of bags, coats and greater patting down of fans.

Toulouse are expecting fewer supporters than usual as many have asked for refunds for tickets already bought for the game.

As for football, there will be blanket extra security while away fans have been banned from all matches in the top two divisions.

League president Frederic Thiriez said security forces across the country were too stretched to allow fans to travel.

But while there will be a greater police presence at rugby matches, where crowds of 10,000-15,000 are typically expected, and football, whose attendances average more than 20,000, the same is not the case in other less followed sports, such as basketball.

Basketball matches had already resumed on Tuesday evening when Nanterre played Germans Telekom Baskets at their home stadium in the western Parisian suburb.

There will be a greater number of security personnel than usual for Paris Saint-Germain's Champions League clash with Germans Kiel on Saturday.

Even at the French short course swimming championships in Angers this weekend there will be specially installed metal detectors.

However, volleyball is going against the grain, planning no extra security.

Women's sport is also affected and ahead of the national basketball team's Euro qualification clash with Estonia in Bourges, soldiers were sent to guard the Prado arena from Thursday.