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Jittery Paris ramps up security on the day of the Euro Cup final

5,000 additional police and security officers were deployed in and around Paris after warnings that the final match between France and Portugal could be an attractive target for extremists.

by VICE News
Jul 10 2016, 6:40pm

Fans at the fan zone near the Eiffel Tower prior to the UEFA EURO 2016 final match between Portugal and France in Paris, France, 10 July. Photo by Christophe Petit Tesson/EPA

French police ramped up security on Sunday ahead of the Euro 2016 final match between Portugal and France, still rattled by the devastating attacks on Paris last November by the Islamic State that left 130 dead.

On Sunday, hours before the match started, police evacuated the area around the Equipede hotel where the France national team were staying, after discovering a suspicious package. Police cordoned off the area, and a bomb squad was called to the scene to carry out a controlled explosion.

No explosives were found in the bag.

The parade that was planned in the event that France beat Portugal, was cancelled due to safety concerns. Also, one of the top searches on Twitter related to the final hours before kick-off was "EuroCup2016 Daesh" – an alternative name for the IS.

Related: A small army will guard France's Euro 2016 soccer tournament

Earlier this week, German Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière told Reuters that the Euro 2016 final could be an attractive target for IS militants, particularly if France was playing.

"The more spectacular the games are and the stronger a showing France makes, this makes [the final] a main attraction," Maizière said. "But the security services know that... the French are well prepared."

More than 5,000 French police were deployed in three key locations in and around Paris ahead of the match. Mathias Vicherat, the Paris Mayor's chief of staff, said some 1,900 police and other security officers would patrol the fan-zone area in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower, where more than 90,000 fans would gather to watch the match on a big screen.

"We have the extremely favorable ratio of one officer for fewer than 50 spectators. So it is an extremely high standard," said Vicherat.

Another 3,400 or so officers would patrol the Stade de France, the match's venue on the outskirts of Paris. The Stade de France was where the night of attacks on Paris began last November. Three men blew themselves up with suicide vests outside the stadium.

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Additional officers will also patrol the Champs-Elysées, where French fans could celebrate in the event of a victory, in defiance of authorities.

In May, France's parliament voted to extend the state of emergency – which was imposed in the wake of the attacks – until the end of July to cover the Euro 2016 tournament.