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Monday, June 05, 2006

World Cup 2006

The World Cup begins this Friday in Germany and I'm looking forward to watching some matches. The first US match is the 12th, but the Czech team they are playing is ranked #2 in the world behind Brazil.

In preparation for the event, German police and other officials are somewhat worried about security. For international sport, 9/11 didn't change everything -- Munich 1972 did.

Nonetheless, the Germans recognize that the world has changed in important ways since 1972 and are trying to prepare for the worst. A Federal Bureau of Criminal Investigation apparently classified 21 different matches as potential high risk events.

However, the risk comes from globalization, not Islamic terror. No specific threats of terrorism have been identified. The New York Times had an interesting piece on World Cup security on May 26. Here's the money quote:
When pressed, German authorities admit they are more worried about soccer hooligans than Al Qaeda.
This is an enduring problem in Europe. About 20 years ago, Margaret Thatcher proposed a UK identity card scheme in response to foreign travel by British football hooligans.

According to the Times story, however, the Germans are much more concerned about the Polish hooligans this time -- partly because the police don't have good identity records. Meanwhile, the Germans are tightening their borders and the UK has revoked 3,500 passports from known offenders.

While 30,000 British fans are expected in Germany, fully one-third of those won't have tickets to particular matches. On the streets, that could be a source of friction during the coming weeks.

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