By Julien Pretot
PARIS (Reuters) – UEFA has confirmed that the 2016 European Championship soccer tournament will take place in France as planned despite the deadly attacks that struck Paris on Friday.
“The EURO final draw will go ahead as scheduled on 12 December at the Palais des Congres in Paris and the final tournament will be played in France from 10 June to 10 July 2016,” UEFA said in a statement on Monday.
Coordinated attacks, for which Islamic State has claimed responsibility, took place in Paris bars, restaurants, a concert hall and outside a soccer stadium on Friday killing at least 129 people and wounding 352 — the worst atrocity in France since World War II.
“Following the dramatic events that occurred last Friday in Paris, UEFA and EURO 2016 SAS wish to reaffirm their commitment in placing safety and security at the centre of their organisational plans,” the statement read.
“While there is no reason to believe that the EURO might become the target of any attack, the potential terrorist threat has always been taken into account, since the beginning of the project.”
On Saturday, organising committee president Jacques Lambert said the risk level around the Euro 2016 finals had “gone up”.
“EURO 2016 SAS and all stakeholders involved in the organisation of the tournament will continue their joint work and will regularly monitor the level of risk for the tournament and their respective organisational plans,” UEFA added.
“For over three years now, EURO 2016 SAS has been working closely with the relevant authorities to develop the most appropriate mechanisms in order to guarantee there is a safe and secure tournament and we are confident that the necessary measures will be taken to ensure that is the case for all involved.”
France coach Didier Deschamps supported the decision, telling a news conference ahead of Tuesday’s friendly against England at Wembley: “Euro 2016 will take place in France. Measures will be taken for it to go ahead in the best conditions.”
Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque told a news conference on Monday previewing Tuesday’s friendly against Belgium in Brussels: “I think changing the venue (for the Euros) would be giving the terrorists what they want”.
(Reporting by Julien Pretot, additional reporting by Iain Rogers; Editing by Ken Ferris)