June 19th, 2024

Champions League matches go ahead despite Islamic State terror threat

By The Associated Press on April 9, 2024.

Manchester City's Erling Haaland, left, speaks with manager Pep Guardiola, during a training session at the City Football Academy, in Manchester, England, Monday April 8, 2024, ahead of a Champions League Quarter final, leg 1 soccer match against Real Madrid on Tuesday. (Mike Egerton/PA via AP)

NYON, Switzerland (AP) – This week’s Champions League games are going ahead as scheduled despite an Islamic State terror threat, the governing body of European soccer said Tuesday.

Several posters circulated on social media alleging to be from the Al-Azaim Foundation – a media arm of ISIS-K – called for attacks at the four stadiums hosting the matches this week. The Associated Press could not verify the authenticity of the posts.

“UEFA is aware of alleged terrorist threats made towards this week’s UEFA Champions League matches and is closely liaising with the authorities at the respective venues,” UEFA said in a statement. “All matches are planned to go ahead as scheduled with appropriate security arrangements in place.”

There are two matches scheduled to be held in Madrid. Real Madrid hosts Manchester City on Tuesday and Atletico Madrid welcomes Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday.

There was no noticeable change to the security plans outside the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium in Madrid, with an extensive police presence already expected ahead of the match. There were no early reports by local authorities of unusual security incidents.

Arsenal plays Bayern Munich in London on Tuesday and Paris Saint-Germain hosts Barcelona the following day.

“I want to reassure the public that we have a robust policing plan in place for tonight’s match (in London) and we continue to work closely alongside the club’s security team to ensure that the match passes peacefully,” Metropolitan Police deputy assistant commissioner Ade Adelekan said.

Before the Arsenal game, there were no obvious indicators that security had been ramped up, with roads near the Emirates Stadium open as usual and fans milling about calmly.

France Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin said police have considerably reinforced security around the Parc des Princes in Paris.

“We have seen, among others, a statement from the Islamic State, which is particularly targeting stadiums. It’s not new,” Darmanin said. “This morning we asked the general director of interior security to communicate the information we have with the other (security) services of the other countries hosting the quarterfinals.”

Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack on the Crocus Hall concert venue outside Moscow on March 22 in which 144 people were killed.

The return matches in the Champions League are scheduled for next week.

PSG defender Danilo said he and his teammates “need to concentrate on the soccer,” but coach Luis Enrique said the threat was worrying.

“Who wouldn’t be concerned by that. Of course we’re concerned,” the PSG coach said. “We hope it’s only a threat and that nothing will happen.”


AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer

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