By Elena Rodriguez
MADRID (Reuters) – Madrid will deploy a record number of police and security personnel for Saturday’s all-English Champions League final, barring trucks and using drones to counter a high threat of terror and prevent any fan trouble, officials said on Tuesday.
Madrid authorities expect around 67,800 fans to attend the clash between Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool at the Wanda Metropolitano stadium.
Some 4,700 police, aided by drones to help coordination, will keep watch over what the authorities deemed as a “high risk” event. They will be reinforced by civil protection, fire corps and other personnel, altogether representing the largest security operation for any sporting event in the city.
Heavy vehicles will be barred from driving near the stadium and designated fan zones for 24 hours starting at 0800 local time on Saturday.
The level of anti-terrorism alert in Spain is four on a scale of five, which implies a high risk of an attack.
“Security forces and corps have done an enormous, exhaustive and excellent job so that we can all enjoy (the match),” Maria Paz Garcia-Vera, representative of the Madrid regional government, told a media briefing on Tuesday.
She said it was important to separate the fans of each team at all times. Fans will therefore arrive at different airport terminals and take different metro lines to the stadium from their separate meeting places in the city – the Colon Square for Spurs fans, and the Felipe II Square for Liverpool supporters.
The security operation will end when the majority of fans have left.
Police Director Francisco Pardo said aerial control of the surroundings and coordination in real time via a drone was this year’s novelty. In a joint effort with UEFA, Spanish police will also launch the so-called Fan Information Teams to advise fans.
“The Champions final is a world showcase, they will be looking at us from all over the world and the Spanish police want to be there to offer a good image of Spain as a safe, hospitable and friendly country,” Pardo said.
(Writing by Andrei Khalip, editing by Axel Bugge and Christian Radnedge)