Tonight’s the night…but as Europe’s month-long festival of football begins in France on Friday, the threat of terrorism as well as ongoing social unrest continues to cast a long shadow over the tournament.
Not that there were any party poopers at a massive music concert near the Eiffel Tower on Thursday night where tens of thousand celebrated Euro 2016. Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo said it all passed off “beautifully”.
But with months of protest against labour reforms still causing strike disruption – notably on public transport – there were fears that fans would have problems getting to tonight’s opening match in the capital between the host nation and Romania.
Industrial action by public sector rubbish collection services has seen authorities send in private trucks to clear piles of rotting refuse from the streets of Paris. Strikers are being warned they won’t be allowed to spoil this sporting spectacle.
Police from participating countries, with experience of tackling hooliganism, are working together at a control centre near the capital to keep their supporters in check.
But that didn’t prevent ugly scenes in Marseille on Thursday night as England supporters clashed with local youths.
Fans hurl chairs in shocking footage of clashes in Marseille https://t.co/Fd728sNIll— Evening Standard (@standardnews) 10 juin 2016
Two people were arrested and four police officers slightly injured in the skirmishes.
The hope is that further violence can be avoided with the southern city due to host an England-Russia match on Saturday.