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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 May, 2004, 21:00 GMT 22:00 UK
Lisbon gears up for Euro 2004
By Peter Grant
BBC correspondent in Lisbon

In just over three weeks, Portugal will become the sporting centre of Europe, as it hosts the Euro 2004 football tournament. But - once again - there are fears that the battles won't just be confined to the 90 minutes on the pitch.

Portuguese riot police display their new equipment ahead of Euro2004
Riot police have been given new gear ahead of the tournament
With this in mind, the authorities have been showing off the forces they have ready to deal with any trouble.

Politicians, officials and journalists gathered at an open space on the waterfront in the capital, Lisbon, to see a display of police vehicles, officers in riot gear, or with dogs, or on horseback.

They were even given an unscheduled soaking by one of the new water cannon brought in for the event.

Yet, despite this show of force, the police are hoping they will be able to keep a fairly low profile, although some 20,000 police officers and guards will be directly involved.

'Positive signs'

Paulo Gomes, the deputy head of the state committee for security at the tournament, says studies carried out since Euro 2000 have shown it is counter-productive to use high profile policing, unless it's necessary.

Most fans just want to enjoy the sunshine and the food, have a drink and see a good match
Kevin Miles
English Football Supporters' Federation
He says there needs to be a balanced approach - neither too firm, nor too soft.

And he says the Portuguese police are not alone - they have been working extensively with forces from other countries.

He says there has been a greater exchange of intelligence about possible troublemakers than ever before, and some countries will be sending police officers to Portugal.

The international co-ordinator for the English Football Supporters' Federation, Kevin Miles, is in Lisbon as part of the preparations.

He says the signs so far, from the police and other organisations involved, are all very positive.

"Most fans just want to enjoy the sunshine and the food, have a drink and see a good match," he says.

His organisation will be setting up a "fans embassy", where they can go for help, and printing regular newsletters.

'Prepared'

For those fans who arrive without tickets - and there are expected to be many of them - "fan zones" with giant TV screens are being set up in some of Lisbon's parks, and in several of the towns where supporters will be staying.

The President of the Portuguese Football Association, Gilberto Madail, told the BBC: "We have been working for more than four years on this. We have taken measures in all areas. I believe the organisation is very good."

Portuguese Interior Minister Antonio Figueiredo Lopes agrees and says he is confident.

"Everybody is prepared," he told the BBC.




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18 May 04  |  Technology



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