Champions League quarterfinal matches to go ahead with increased security despite Islamic State terror threat

Paris police will “considerably boost security measures” for the Champions League quarterfinal between Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona this week, French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin told journalists Tuesday.

The heightened security presence follows a threat from the Islamic State terror group against the Parc des Princes and other European soccer stadiums hosting Champions League matches, Darmanin said.

In a statement to CNN, European soccer governing body UEFA said that it is “aware” of the “alleged terrorist threats” and is “closely liaising with the authorities at the respective venues.”

The spokesperson added that all matches will go ahead as scheduled with “appropriate security arrangements in place.”

Meanwhile, London’s Metropolitan Police said that a robust policing plan has been implemented for the Champions League quarterfinal between Arsenal and Bayern Munich at the Emirates Stadium following the terror threats.

“The UK terrorism threat level remains at ‘substantial’ meaning an attack is likely, and we work closely with colleagues from across Counter Terrorism Policing in planning for events here in London, to take into account any relevant information that could help us to keep those attending safe,” said Deputy Assistant Commissioner Ade Adelekan.

“We’re aware of online and media reports in relation to calls to target matches across Europe and here in London. However, I want to reassure the public that we have a robust policing plan in place for tonight’s match and we continue to work closely alongside the club’s security team to ensure that the match passes peacefully.”

Arsenal said in a statement that the club works closely with the Metropolitan Police “regarding the safety and security of all supporters and staff at Emirates Stadium for all our matches.”

It added: “Our planning for tonight’s fixture is no different and our approach, working together with the Police and UEFA, is proportionate to the current UK threat level.”

Arsenal will face Bayern Munich at the Emirates Stadium in north London on Tuesday. - Clive Mason/Getty Images
Arsenal will face Bayern Munich at the Emirates Stadium in north London on Tuesday. - Clive Mason/Getty Images

In this week’s quarterfinals, Arsenal plays Bayern and Real Madrid hosts defending champion Manchester City at the Santiago Bernabéu on Tuesday. Matches between PSG and Barça and Atlético Madrid and Borussia Dortmund take place on Wednesday.

Last month, ISIS claimed responsibility for an attack at a popular concert hall complex near the Russian capital of Moscow after assailants stormed the venue with guns and incendiary devices, killing at least 139 people.

Tightened security in the Spanish capital

In Madrid, Spanish security forces are reinforcing security measures ahead of the city’s two Champions League games at the Bernabéu and Civitas Metropolitano stadiums, police sources told CNN.

The police sources consulted by CNN pointed out that this is not something exceptional, given that anti-terrorism plans by security forces include constant monitoring of these types of threats, and they have already found on other occasions that events with a large number of people are often a target.

The sources added that, since the attack in Moscow, terrorists are trying to maintain a climate of alarm and fear.

Because the two matches are considered high risk, the delegate of the Spanish Government in Madrid, Francisco Martín, announced on Tuesday that they will carry out “an extraordinary security deployment” in accordance with the alert level determined by intelligence services and state security forces.

This includes the deployment of nearly 1,900 security personnel for Tuesday’s game, which will be attended by approximately 76,000 spectators, 4,100 of whom have traveled from England.

On Wednesday, 1,275 security personnel are expected to be deployed for a match watched by around 68,000.

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