FIFA confident that Turkey protests won’t affect U-20 World Cup
Turkey's football fans were in the front-line of the protests. DHA photoThe FIFA U-20 World Cup Turkey 2013 will not be adversely impacted by the ongoing protests in Istanbul, FIFA’s chief security director said.
FIFA Director of Security Ralf Mutschke met with Istanbul Vice Governor Aziz Mercan and Erdem İren, Sports Division Police Representative, who reassured the world football’s governing body that the ongoing protests would not affect the competition.
“The overall message from the governor is Istanbul and Turkey are safe and they envisage no problems,” Mutschke, a former INTERPOL director said, following the meeting on the competition, which runs from 21 June to 13 July.
“I raised the concerns from FIFA regarding the security of [our headquarters in Istanbul] and the tournament in particular and discussed the possible impacts of the demonstrations which we have witnessed over the past few days, as well as the police reaction.
“[The Vice Governor] was very open with us and he understood our concerns. He ensured us that there is no security risk for the teams and all the tournament locations which, from what I have seen, I would agree with.”
A peaceful sit-in protest against the renovation plan of a central city park turned into widespread anti-government rallies on May 31, following heavy police crackdown. On June 15, police staged increased crackdown on the Gezi Park, the heart of the protests, forcing people out of the area.
Mutschke said he felt it was important to gain the most up-to-date information on the current situation and keep the local authorities briefed on FIFA’s view on security.
“It’s good we had the opportunity to raise our concerns, I believe they took it seriously and we agreed that they are going to inform us about any change in their threat assessment to the competition, the teams or any tournament locations.”
“Regarding the tournament, the protesters are not targeting the competition, so it is not an issue. All intelligence the governor has is telling us that there will be no problems in the stadiums, and that is also in line with our assessment from a security point of view,” Mutschke said.