They're freeing up jail space in Holland and readying the morgues in Belgium, which can only mean one thing: It's almost time for the Euro 2000 soccer championships. After the violence that marred England's 1998 World Cup appearance and the pitched battles involving Turkish and English fans during this year's UEFA Cup, officials from Belgium and Holland, co-hosts for the 16-team tournament that runs from June 10 to July 2, are preparing for the worst.
The police presence will be huge during the tournament, and authorities will use emergency powers to detain troublemakers without trial. Indeed, prison inmates may be the only people in the host nations who are unreservedly looking forward to Euro 2000. To accommodate hooligans the Dutch are going so far as to release convicts who have less than a month remaining on their sentences.
The greatest trepidation surrounds the June 17 match between England and Germany in the Belgian city of Charleroi. The stadium there holds only 30,000, and authorities fear that thousands of ticketless English and German fans will descend on the narrow, cobbled streets of the town, an invitation to trouble. Planners have divided Charleroi into color-coded zones, hoping to restrict Germans to hotels and campsites in the yellow zone and Brits to the blue. Even Charleroi's morgues will be segregated. "The bodies of the English and Germans should be taken to two separate mortuaries," said police chief Jean-Pierre Levaux. "We don't want to risk rival families and friends coming face-to-face outside the same morgue, where emotions will be running high and there could be even more bloodshed."
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