British model of dealing with hooligans being adopted in Greece

Greek police officials have been in constant contact with Scotland Yard recently in view of the UEFA Champions League soccer final to be held in Athens on May 23. The police forces of Britain and Greece have set up a special operations network to gather and exchange information on the profiles of fans expected to travel here for the event. The network is also designed to provide up-to-the-minute information regarding departures to Athens of British hooligans, who may not have tickets for the final. These procedures have been adopted on a permanent basis as part of a European Union agreement on the operation of agencies dealing with sports violence. The fact that hardcore British fans will be traveling to Athens, the frequent violence linked to soccer and the possibility that incidents may mar this international event, coupled with the tension in Greece following the violent death of a soccer fan in Paeania, outside Athens, last month, have put collaboration between the Greek and British police forces on a new footing. Against the background of the upcoming final, Greek Police (ELAS) officials recently invited counterpart organizations in Britain and the Netherlands to train Greek officers in dealing with hooligans. «There is close cooperation as we are adopting their know-how in combating soccer violence,» explained a senior ELAS official. The same source told Kathimerini that as the final draws near, Scotland Yard officers would be coming to Athens more often, and British police officers would be accompanying the thousands of British fans at the final. This tactic has been used for some time, irrespective of the fans’ destination, because of violence involving British fans in several countries. British officers have a better understanding of the behavior of their country’s hardcore hooligans and a clear picture of their organization, leaders and associated risk factors. This is the tactic which the Greek Police have apparently adopted to monitor Greek fans, with the participation of a group of ELAS officers and former athletes. «We will have them continually in our sights,» said a senior officer. «We are exchanging information concerning the degree of risk posed by individuals preparing to come to Greece,» the same source said. «British police officers will arrive in Athens several days before the final to check fans’ accommodation and arrangements for their transport to and from the stadium, in order to prevent one group meeting up with another.» British police representatives confirm this. A report in last Friday’s Guardian outlines preparations by the Greek authorities for «an unprecedented security operation.» Merseyside Police Chief Superintendent Dave Lewis has already confirmed they would support the policing operation of the hosts should Liverpool reach the final. UEFA spokesman William Gaillard said, «If it’s an all-English match, then we’ll need advice from the British police.»

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