Security Tight in World Cup Town
TOULOUSE, France (AP) _ In this college town of lively bars and colorful squares that give it the nickname ``the pink city,″ police are detouring the World Cup’s parade.
And with good reason, they say. The English are coming.
Too bad if the bar owners are angry they’re forced to close at 11 p.m. from now through the Monday night match between England and Romania. Too bad if the carnival-like Festival of Music on Sunday is postponed until after the tournament has left town.
Toulouse isn’t taking any chances, not after a few hundred drunken English toughs roughed up Marseille before and during Monday’s match with Tunisia, clashed with local North African immigrant youths and battled police.
The tight security in Toulouse seemed to have worked Thursday night, when the alcohol rules took effect just after the South Africa-Denmark match.
The Haute-Garonne regional prefecture confirmed Thursday that the early bar closure would stand, even though bar owners who usually can stay open until 2 a.m. were afraid of losing business.
Mayor Dominique Baudis rescheduled the Festival of Music _ a nationwide event _ for July 11 in Toulouse, on the eve of the World Cup final in Paris.
The director of national police in the region around Toulouse, Alain Dreuilhe, said two or three 80-member units of CRS riot police or motorized gendarmes would be in place Friday, in addition to the 1,300 police initially planned.
Police and justice authorities said privately that they fear North African immigrants from the Mirail neighborhood of southwest Toulouse could descend on the music event, as others in Marseille did to confront English fans.
To avoid those kind of clashes, authorities stood by their decision not to put up two giant TV screens showing the World Cup match. English fans and local youths battled at one on a beach in Marseille.
But as of Thursday night, officials had opted against erecting fences to separate the two countries’ fans.
Authorities in the southern city of Montpellier on Thursday arrested an English fan linked to the three days of clashes in Marseille in which 50 people were injured and 80 detained.
The suspect, identified by English police as one of about 50 troublemakers from their country, was to be transferred to the southern port.
Marseille authorities planned increased security for Saturday’s match between the Netherlands and South Korea.
But regional Prefect Jean-Paul Proust relented on a strict alcohol ban announced earlier, under pressure from cafe and restaurant owners who said the measures were ``anti-business.″
Proust agreed Thursday to allow alcohol to be sold an hour later, until midnight, and said cafes and restaurants could remain open until 4 a.m.
Carryout alcoholic drink remain strictly forbidden throughout the weekend, starting Friday night.
Some 2,000 regular police are to be activated for weekend duty, along with riot police.
In Paris, officials announced Thursday that possession and consumption of alcohol would be banned on the streets around the Parc des Princes stadium in western Paris on match days.
Bars in the area would be ``asked to close″ on those days, the police statement said.
Alcohol is also banned around the large World Cup viewing screens built outside City Hall, near the Eiffel Tower and three other locations, the statement said.
Police surveillance of ``at-risk fans,″ train stations, transport and tourist sites would be increased, the statement said, without giving figures. Festival of Music shows on the Champs-Elysees were banned.