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France mobilizes police officers ahead of World Cup semifinal match

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Bernard Van Berg / EyeEm/Getty Images

(NEW YORK) — French authorities are gearing up for the country’s World Cup semifinal match on Wednesday against Morocco.

French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin unveiled the enforced security measures on Tuesday, calling for the mobilization of 10,000 police officers nationwide, with 5,000 officers in Paris alone.

Wednesday’s game in Qatar is sure to be action-filled as the French reigning champions meet Morocco, the first African nation to advance to the semifinals of the tournament. The victor of the game will play Argentina in the final on Dec. 18. Argentina secured their spot in the final with a decisive 3-0 win on Tuesday against Croatia.

French police said they’re concerned about violence and damage in the wake of the game, calling for the closing of several metro stations, along with the removal of garbage cans, construction barriers, or “any other material that can be used as a weapon.”

The rigorous security precautions have precedent in past French World Cup championships in 1998 and 2018. In 1998, France’s victory at home over Brazil prompted 600,000 supporters to march down the Champs-Élysées. Over 300,000 turned out in Paris after the team defeated Croatia in 2018.

Morocco’s 1-0 quarterfinal victory over Portugal on Saturday resulted in nearly 20,000 supporters rallying to celebrate the nation’s qualification on the historic Paris avenue, leading to the arrest of 108 individuals, according to French authorities.

Despite calls from Jeanne d’Hauteserre, the mayor of the eighth arrondissement in Paris, to close the Champs-Élysées, the interior minister has decided to keep the avenue open to traffic but close the roads feeding into it Wednesday from 6:30 p.m. local time.

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