BEIRUT: As Germany and Brazil’s national football teams prepare to do battle Tuesday night, Lebanese security forces are preparing for their own showdown ... with the fans.
In Lebanon, Germany’s red, yellow and black flag competes for popularity only with Brazil’s green and yellow one. When the two powerhouses meet this week, the match will not only grab international attention, it will draw thousands of Lebanese out of their homes to watch.
Recent security scares, along with the regular football-related shenanigans, has led the Internal Security Forces to deploy more security leading up to the game. While a spokesperson for the ISF wasn’t able to provide any figures on how much more security would be on hand than usual, he did say that there would be police patrolling roads and setting up checkpoints around Beirut.
“Everything is under control,” said a Lebanese Army source. “We conduct patrols during and after every match.”
“All territory [will be patrolled],” ISF spokesperson Joseph Moussallem, a Brazil supporter, told The Daily Star. Moussallem asked that Lebanese try to remain “quiet and wise” throughout the night.
He also referred to a recent statement released by the ISF that asks all Lebanese to refrain from shooting fireworks, or hanging out of car windows or sitting on the roofs of moving vehicles.
The ISF will also be out to try and prevent any sort of attack on areas broadcasting the match. Last month, a suicide bomber detonated a car in Tayyouneh, killing a security officer and injuring a number of civilians watching a World Cup match at a sidewalk café.
Despite these fears, fans will still flock to venues to watch matches.
“I feel vulnerable in every gathering in an open space, considering the general situation in Lebanon,” said Umer Kabboul, a 30-year-old who works for a nonprofit organization.
But in addition to security concerns related to explosions, there is also the fear of fan-on-fan violence, considering the avidness of each group of supporters.
“It’s possible,” Moussallem said of the prospect of fan violence. “We sent instructions to be calm and quiet.”
Security forces will have to keep their eyes on a number of negative influences that could lead to small disputes, including things like alcohol consumption and the possession of firearms combined with radical team loyalties.
“I can never accept Brazilian fanatics around me by any chance,” joked Hady Abi Saleh, a defiant Germany supporter.
Supporters like Kabboul, though, believe that the situation will be generally peaceful.
“I’m actually not worried at all,” he said.
“Our Brazil-supporting friends cheered for France and Ghana against Germany,” he said, adding that those games went off without incident. He also noted that some venues, like one set up by the German embassy exclusively for fans of the German team, will only cater to one side in an effort to avoid conflict.
“We [ Germany and Brazil fans] watched the first game in Hamra together and we didn’t fight at all,” Kabboul said.