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Thousands of German cops heading to Euro 2008

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Thousands of German cops heading to Euro 2008
Swiss police confront hooligans on May 20. Photo: DPA
15:27 CEST+02:00
Up to 1,700 German police officers will head to the European football championship next month to help out their colleagues in host nations Switzerland and Austria, the German Interior Ministry announced on Monday.

A ministry spokesman said Germany had committed to provide the police support in agreements with Swiss and Austrian officials, but the actual number of officers sent to each country will depend on the situation in various cities where Euro matches will be held.

The head of Germany's police union, Rainer Wendt, said he wasn't worried about German police being put into difficult situations.

“That's because our officers can both deescalate and break things up if necessary,” Wendt said, adding that German authorities were already working “to take hooligans and problem makers out of circulation.”

Most of the officers heading to the football tournament – which kicks off in the Alpine nations on June 7 – are specialists in dealing with potentially violent fans and keeping problems from escalating, according to the German news agency DDP. The officers have already been busy trying to pinpoint hooligans in several German states ahead of the European Championship.

In Lower Saxony alone, police have addressed 373 potential problemakers, said ministry spokesman Michael Knaps. At least 18 hooligans have been told to register with their hometown authorities during the three-week football tournament. Six will even be required to turn in their passports and ID cards to keep them from leaving the country.

Germany's most populous state, North Rhine-Westphalia, will send some 400 police officers to the first-round matches in Klagenfurt and Innsbruck. The German national team will meet the Polish and Croatian sides in Klagenfurt, setting up potentially violent clashes with hooligans from both countries.

“The North Rhine-Westphalia police have the utmost experience for football deployments,” said the state's Interior Minister Ingo Wolf.

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