Organisers of the Slovakia-based European under-21 football championships have said that they are fully prepared for any possible violence at the event, with police officers from across the country ready for the expected influx of fans.
Fears grew in recent weeks that the championships, being held in Bratislava, Trenčín and Trnava from May 27 till June 4, could see bloody clashes at the match between England and Turkey, scheduled for May 29, a possible flashpoint following the recent killings of two British football fans in Istanbul.
Ľudovít Zapletaj, the head of the Police Corps Presidium Disciplinary Department, said that over 1,000 policemen would reinforce the normal standing police corps in Bratislava in order to prevent any potential problems.
Karol Gumán, spokesman for the championships, said: "As well as the 1,000 policemen in Bratislava we will have other special police units on duty in case of any trouble. We are anticipating some problems." Gumán added that 5,000 Turkish fans were expected to arrive from Austria and that through co-operation with Interpol the tournament organisers "knew about all the fans coming from everywhere."
He said: "Mainly, the riskiest match will be the one between England and Turkey. We are expecting problems - not just in the stadium, but in the city as well."
Border controls and stepped-up railway police checks will, Gumán said, help to keep troublemakers out of Slovakia. "This is the first step in keeping the bad people out," he said.
In line with UEFA regulations, no alcohol will be available to fans at the stadium and no bottles will be allowed to be brought in to matches.
Full houses are expected at the 15,000 capacity Inter stadium for all Slovakia's matches, the third-placed play-offs and the final on June 4 at the 35,000 seat Slovan stadium.
29. May 2000 at 0:00 | Ed Holt