Germany is preparing for security in WC 2006 on a war footing. Regular units of the German Army are to be deployed along with police forces. There is even a "National Security Concept of the World Cup 2006"policy set up by the German Interior Ministry.
The major problem has been hooliganism in the past. Some 2,400 violent fans have been forbidden from attending World Cup games and 7,000 others are being subjected to additional scrutiny. Germany's Central Information Center for Sports Assignment -- a law enforcement center that keeps tabs on violent fans -- has a total of 10,000 hooligans in its database. "We have the hooligans well under control," Peter Peters, CEO of the German professional team Schalke 04, told the Süddeutsche Zeitung.
The presence of this massive unprecedented mobilization of army units and the police have left many fans wondering if they are going to be watching soccer or a prelude to a mini war. But this world cup will also see the presence of private security firms sending in their officers, a prospect that has left these firms rubbing their hands in glee at the financial windfall. Many question this rather exuberant display of man and firepower and the police themselves have been critical of the inclusion of troops and security firms in the security mix.
Germany has also seen the advent of far right groups. And there are indications that neo- Nazis that target immigrants are planning to stage something specatcular. And with the US soccer team in the WC, there is always the threat of terrorism. This World Cup is staged post- Iraq. With the US having done everything to alienate the Muslim world much of this possibility is self inflicted. Of course, it does not make security any easier. And then there is Iran. With the back and forth that is happening with Iran and the US on the nuclear weapons issue, and Germany amongst one of the peacemakers in this equation ; the real security nightmare is if the US meets Iran in a match.
One really feels for the fans who've just come to see the beautiful game. And we hope that nothing takes away from that.
So when does security become overzealous? "Tanks in the vicinity of stadiums: That would certainly be unacceptable," Theo Zwanziger, the president of the German Soccer Association (DFB), recently said in an interview. "We want people to hug each other. If tanks are stationed in the background -- even as a preventive measure -- it just wouldn't work."
Love and amity at gunpoint. Who would want it any other way?