ONLINE FOCUS: Mr Mertens, after the attack in Moscow, the Minister of the Interior of North Rhine-Westphalia, Herbert Reul (CDU), believes that there is an abstractly high risk of attacks, especially by the terrorist militia “Islamic City ” and its Afghan affiliates, especially in view of the summer European Football Championship in Khorasan Province (ISPK). As a police expert, do you share this forecast?

Mertens: I completely agree with the Minister of the Interior: the attack in Moscow has shown once again that the ISPK in particular is responsible for terrorism. to Europe and I also want to take it to Germany. In recent years, numerous arrests of terrorist suspects from the organization have been made in this country. Headlines.

The attack scenarios ranged from the construction of a poison bomb in Castrop-Rauxel to an alleged truck attack on a pro-Israel demonstration and the terror scare around the Cologne Cathedral on Christmas and New Year's Eve. After the arrest of two Tajik cells of the ISPK, the security authorities and police In the European Championship there is an increasingly threatening situation.

During fan protests against the DFL's investment model, ultras threw tennis balls onto the field, in Cologne, remote-controlled toy cars crossed the penalty area and State Security agents acted out drone attack scenarios. How concrete are those scenarios?

Mertens: First of all, you must consider all the possibilities. There is an increased risk of terrorism, especially with remotely controlled vehicles or flying objects. Security authorities are examining all possible attack scenarios.

I'm just thinking about the Greenpeace activist who was at the European Championship preliminary round match between Germany and… France He landed in the field in 2021 with a motorized paraglider. Luckily the man was harmless. However, it should also be noted that the authorities did not expect a landing at the Allianz Arena. It's different this time.

“There could be a high-risk match against Türkiye in Dortmund”

What about the police?

Mertens: 21 of the 51 matches are played in North Rhine-Westphalia. This means that the Rhine and Ruhr police face a special challenge. The information and police situation center for the European Championship is also located in Neuss. Especially in times when the threat of terrorism is growing, the police face a great challenge.

How many of your colleagues will be deployed?

Mertens: That depends on the game and the assessment of the situation. should be about Greece But even if they qualify for the tournament, there will be a high-risk match against them in Dortmund. Türkiye. The lineup will almost certainly be in the four-figure range.

The same applies if Ukraine comes to Germany for the euro. One thing is clear: in all the federal states where Euro Cup matches are played, all the police are on duty in some form. In NRW we have a total holiday ban for at least the first two weeks of the tournament.

To what extent do security measures in emerging markets differ from those in the European market? Bundesliga?

Mertens: There is a big difference. UEFA has a much stricter security concept than the Bundesliga. All stadiums are approved by the Union of European Football Associations. All rooms are monitored, so ultra local groups do not have access to their camps or other facilities during this time.

In addition, entry controls are increasing enormously. There will be at least two control rings in front of the entrances. Unlike the Bundesliga, tickets for the Euro Cup are personal. This means that visitors can be controlled much better.

Safety measures also ensure that fewer pyrotechnics are set off in the spectator stands or disturbances occur in the fan blocks. That means things will be quieter in the stadiums.

“Several clubs are being deceived by ultra-violent groups”

And what does it look like outside among the miles of fans?

Mertens: There is a risk of opposing fan groups coming into conflict. We also monitor these event areas. In the past, club fans attacked the ticket offices en masse to gain entry by force. The two outer control rings located in front of the stadiums will know how to avoid this.

That sounds very optimistic.

Mertens: No I dont think so. The protection of emerging markets is also a top priority for German and European security authorities. It has a completely different quality to a normal Bundesliga match day. If my prediction comes true at the end of the Euro, Bundesliga clubs will have to ask themselves why they cannot guarantee this high protection factor in their stadiums.

Because currently several clubs allow themselves to be deceived by ultra-violent groups. A power struggle developed. According to the motto: Who owns the club, who is in charge, we do not respect the rules of the club, but rather we hang banners. Attacks on police are considered normal.

Entry controls are so lax that you can smuggle almost anything. Several clubs just watch helplessly. They are vehemently opposed to personalized entries. On the contrary: Ultra groups continue to receive subsidized tickets. That's absurd.