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22.08.2020 Europe

Extra security measures in Paris for PSG's big Champions League final

By Agencies - RFI
Extra security measures in Paris for PSG's big Champions League final
LISTEN AUG 22, 2020

Paris Saint-Germain may become only the second French football club to win the Champions League on Sunday, 23 August. Around 3,000 police will be deployed on Paris' main Champs-Élysées avenue and outside the club's stadium to prevent wild celebrations amid coronavirus concerns.

French authorities have stepped up security and logistics ahead of Sunday's finals of the Champions League in Lisbon, which is expected to draw thousands of PSG fans to Paris.

On top of an increased police presence, Covid-19, 2,000 masks will be distributed in keeping with new rules in place on wearing a mask in public places.

In a bid to keep the crowds down, 17 subway stations will be shut and three ring road entry points into Paris will be closed off. 

“Not only so things take place in the best way possible in terms of public security, but obviously so that the wearing of masks can be ensured,” says Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin.

PSG  faces five-time champion Bayern Munich in Lisbon, but all eyes will be on keen spectators in bars and cafés back home.

With coronavirus cases on the rise in France, authorities want to avoid scenes like Tuesday, when raucous fans celebrated PSG's 3 nil victory against Leipzig, thus reaching the final for the first time in the club's 50-year history.

Flares and banners
Thousands poured onto the famed Champs-Élysées, some on scooters or hanging out of cars, lighting up the night sky with flares as they danced and cheered wildly.

Many were without face masks as social distancing disappeared entirely amid the hugging and jubilation. 

Police arrested 36 people at the foot of the Arc de Triomphe as the scene degenerated into scattered violence and shop windows were smashed. But police authorities were also widely criticized for not anticipating the situation properly and deploying only a dozen vans.

The avenue will be reserved for pedestrians only from 9 p.m.— kick off time — with no vehicles allowed to enter. This rare measure is usually reserved for New Year's Eve.

High hopes for Neymar and Mbappé
PSG is broadcasting the match on a giant screen at its Parc des Princes stadium in western Paris, where 5,000 fans will be allowed to gather— the maximum number that can attend public events in France, due to Covid-19 restrictions.

All fans entering the stadium have to wear masks and wash their hands, and police are being deployed outside to prevent a repeat of the widespread gathering on Tuesday.

On the outskirts of the city, 500 people will be allowed to watch the game at the club's training ground at Saint-Germain-en-Laye.

There is more than victory at stake for PSG, which is trying to end decades of gloating from bitter rival Marseille — the only French club to have won the competition in 1993.

The game is massive for the club, which had never got past the quarterfinals since 2011 despite huge backing from Qatari investors QSI estimated at more than 1.5 billion euros.

That includes a massive transfer outlay of 400 million euros alone on star forwards Neymar and Kylian Mbappé.

Now the world's two most expensive players are under big pressure to make history for PSG.

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