France vowed ongoing strikes would not ruin Euro 2016, where football fans waded through layers of security to attend yesterday’s opening game in a tournament fraught with terror fears.
Thousands of fans gathered at the Stade de France, north of Paris, the site of three suicide bombings during last November’s attacks that have kept the city on high alert.
Holding beers or wearing brightly-coloured wigs, fans submitted to numerous searches as months of gloom and doom in France finally appeared to give way to football fun.
The European championship comes after months of woes in France, with the country hit by terror attacks, floods, political turmoil and strikes.
“The image that is being given is not the one we wanted,” chief organiser Jacques Lambert admitted before the tournament’s opening match between the hosts and Romania.
Seven months after the co-ordinated attacks by the Islamic State group left 130 people dead around Paris, die-hard fans like Daniel Suciu from Romania refused to be cowed by fear.
“We live in a dangerous world.
I know it is dangerous but to support Romania is just more important than everything,” the 27-year-old told AFP as he headed to a fan zone at the foot of the Eiffel Tower.
However Julia Settgast, 28, a German student on a language course in Paris, said she was too jittery to go out and watch the match, and would do so in her Airbnb apartment.
“In Germany I would watch the matches in bars or at a public viewing, but in France... I am afraid of terrorism.
I would have a bad feeling if I were going to the fan zone with so many people,” she said.
She said she was surprised by the palpable lack of party atmosphere in France compared to Germany. “If it’s because they are afraid of terrorism I can understand, but it’s very sad.”
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