France will employ anti-drone technology to interfere with and take control of any flying machines breaching strict no-fly zones over stadiums where the games of the 2016 European Soccer Championship will be played. The technology is part of broad and unprecedented security measures taken to secure Europe’s biggest sports event.
The BBC reports that in an interview with the AP, Euro 2016 security chief Ziad Khoury said Tuesday that no-fly zones will be declared over all ten stadiums as well as training grounds for the twenty-four teams at the 10 June – 10 July tournament.
“We’ve noted the general proliferation of drone-usage in society,” Khoury said. “So no-fly zones will be defined over every training ground and every stadium, and in most stadiums and for most matches anti-drone measures — which are quite innovative — will be deployed, working with the state, which will interfere with drones and take control of them if they are spotted.”
French security agencies have been training for some time for the possibility of drones used to disperse chemical agents over crowds. In April the French police conducted a drill in Saint-Etienne, one of the ten Euro 2016 sites. The drill included a scenario in which a drone carrying chemical agents had plunged into spectators at the Geoffroy Guichard Stadium, which will host three group matches in June and one game in the knockout round.
“When you prepare an event of this size, you must imagine all scenarios, even the most unlikely,” Khoury said.
He stressed that the security services have no specific intelligence to indicate that drones are a threat, but are preparing for all eventualities. The anti-drone measures to be employed by the French air force and police “aren’t necessarily infallible, because the technology is new and the drone phenomenon is recent. Let’s say it is a dissuasive measure that didn’t exist at previous sports events,” he said.
“The idea is not to destroy the drones, because there could be collateral damage, notably if they crashed into the public. It is to prevent them from flying over the stadiums and perhaps to arrest their pilots,” Khoury said.
Expanded security perimeters around stadiums should keep any drone pilots at a considerable distance, he said.
“So the risk for matches should be limited. For other sites, it’s a different matter,” Khoury said.
“With drones, it could be curiosity. It could be fans. It could be something more malicious,” he said. “Nothing has been identified in particular. It’s simply that we are working on all hypotheses so we could respond.”