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Police Try To Avoid Soccer Clashes

June 20, 1998

TOULOUSE, France (AP) _ They’re closing the keg a bit early and pulling the plugs on giant outdoor television screens, but authorities preparing for Britain’s match Monday against Romania say the best-laid plans cannot stop hooligans determined to disrupt World Cup soccer.

``Nobody, British or French, has said we could guarantee a trouble-free event,″ Tim Hollis, the top British police officer advising the French, said at a news conference Friday.

Monday’s match will be played in the southwestern city of Toulouse. A barrage of measures _ including more police and canceling non-soccer events _ are being put into place to avoid clashes like those before, during and after a Marseille match between England and Tunisia.

Authorities also were sending riot police to Marseille to assist some 1,300 officers bracing for trouble there before today’s match between the Netherlands and South Korea.

However, under pressure from cafe and restaurant owners in Marseille, regional Prefect Jean-Paul Proust agreed Thursday to allow alcohol to be sold until midnight, instead of 11 p.m., and said restaurants could stay open until 4 a.m.

In Toulouse, cafes and bars were forced to close at 11 p.m. starting Thursday and continuing through Monday. They usually close at 2 a.m.

A nationwide music festival also has been postponed until July 11 and, with it, a series of other festivities.

And ticketless fans won’t be able to watch Britain and Romania play on two giant World Cup screens, as planned. The screens were being eliminated after a similar one on Marseille’s Prado beach became the sight of a scuffle during last Monday’s game.

``Our plan is in place, but it is worth nothing if you have 500 guys who don’t fear arrest and who want to wreck everything,″ said British liaison officer Eddie Curtis.

Hollis said authorities have identified 200 hooligans who rampaged in Marseille, and British ``spotter″ police would be watching for them in Toulouse.

French authorities have jailed scores of people in connection with World Cup violence.

England coach Glenn Hoddle said that if the ringleaders from earlier troubles are behind bars, then the hooligan problems should be over. The test, he said, would be Monday’s match against Romania.

``At the end of the day, if there’s no trouble in Toulouse, then I don’t think we will have any more trouble during the World Cup.″ he said.

The prefect of Toulouse’s Haute-Garonne region, Alain Bidou, said Friday night that fences would not be installed inside the stadium to control raucous fans. British officials had argued against them, saying they breed conflict and could be dangerous in a commotion.

Stricter measures also were in place in the French capital, including banning alcohol consumption on the streets around Parc des Princes stadium on match days. Area bars will be ``asked to close″ on those days, according to a police statement.

Alcohol also is banned around the large World Cup viewing screens built outside City Hall, near the Eiffel Tower and in three other locations, the statement said.

The English Football Association, meanwhile, defended its head of security after The Mirror reported on Friday that he took a Spanish holiday just hours after English fans rioted in Marseille.

``Any suggestions that Sir Brian Hayes ... is not fulfilling his duties as adviser to the F.A. on security during the World Cup are preposterous,″ spokesman Steve Double said Friday. ``He is currently in constant contact with all the relevant authorities in the build-up to England’s next game against Romania in Toulouse.″

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