Belfast Telegraph

Green carpet treatment for fans heading to Euro 2016

The exodus of hopeful and expectant football fans to France for Euro 2016 has begun, against a backdrop of terror threats and strike action across the Channel.

Supporters heading out of London's St Pancras International station on the Eurostar were given the green carpet treatment as staff marked their departure by turning the platform into a makeshift pitch.

England are among the first of the 24 teams in action, taking on Russia in Group B on Saturday evening, 24 hours after the hosts open the tournament against Romania.

Wales also play on Saturday, against Slovakia, while Northern Ireland take on Poland the following evening. Republic of Ireland fans will have to wait until Monday to see their team take on Sweden.

While the 7.55am Eurostar service to Paris left on time and without any hitches, fans have been warned to expect disruption in France after a wave of travel strikes that have brought chaos to the transport network.

Trains have been cancelled across France in an industrial dispute between drivers and the rail service, while oil refineries were hit by blockades as part of an extensive protest movement against labour reforms.

Fans have also been warned to remain "vigilant at all times" in the face of the terrorism threat.

Updated advice from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has highlighted stadiums, fan zones, other venues broadcasting the tournament and transport hubs and links as potential targets.

British counter-terrorism officers are playing "a key part" in planning against attacks that may target the tournament and a team from the UK has travelled to France and is working with police and intelligence services there to assess possible threats.

Earlier this week, officials in Ukraine revealed they had arrested a Frenchman who was apparently inspired by extremist right-wing beliefs to plot a series of strikes in his homeland after buying an arsenal of weapons in an undercover sting.

Matches at Euro 2016 will be played across several stadia with a string of fan zones for thousands of supporters.

Eurostar said it is expecting more than half a million fans to travel to France during the tournament.


From Belfast Telegraph