MADRID, November 19 – A unprecedented series of security measures will be put in place for Saturday’s La Liga clash between Real Madrid and Barcelona in response to the attacks that killed 129 people in Paris last week.
The exact number of security personnel will be ironed out in a meeting on Thursday between representatives of both clubs, police and local and national government.
“Security will be greatly reinforced. There will be a lot of security personnel to control not only the access to the stadium, but also the outskirts and the transport that will bring fans to the stadium,” said Spanish Interior Minister Jorge Fernandez Diaz.
Spain’s anti-violence commission met with political, police and sporting authorities on Wednesday and declared the match as “high risk”, which is customary for the biggest games in La Liga, especially those between eternal rivals Madrid and Barca.
However, the events in Paris, allied to a terror threat level of four out of a maximum five in Spain, means that the security measures have “no precedent for the celebration of sporting events,” according to Francisco Martinez Vazquez, secretary of state for security.
No official figures have yet been released, but according to reports in the Spanish media, there will be a triple ring of security around Madrid’s Santiago Bernabeu stadium with over 1,500 police, who will be armed with horses, dogs and metal detectors.
A capacity crowd of 81,000 fans are expected to attend the match widely seen as the biggest in the world with an estimated television audience of 500 million.
The Stade de France, where an 80,000 crowd were watching France host Germany, was one of a series of targets across the French capital on Friday.
As a result of the increased terror threat, Spain’s friendly in Belgium was postponed on Tuesday, as was Germany’s clash with the Netherlands due to a bomb threat in Hannover.
The Bernabeu was the target of a bomb threat in December 2004, just months after the Madrid train bombings that killed 191 people.
The stadium was evacuated quickly and calmly near the end of a league match against Real Sociedad.
Two years previously, the Basque separatist group ETA planted a car bomb near the stadium on the day of a Champions League semi-final between Madrid and Barcelona causing 17 injuries. However, the game still went ahead.
Fernandez Diaz insisted at the moment there is no reason to think about postponing the game.
However, “should those circumstances arise, the priority is to ensure people’s lives,” he added.