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SPORTS | 11-06-2019 13:59

Brazil to unroll large security operation for Copa América amid hooligan threat

Brazil will deploy increased security measures as it braces for the start of the Copa América on Friday. Argentine referee Néstor Pitana is chosen to officiate the inaugural match between the hosts and Bolivia.

Copa America hosts Brazil will deploy snipers and sniffer dogs for the Latin American tournament kicking off Friday, as the soccer-mad country braces for the influx of thousands of fans.

Around 10,000 private guards will be used to provide security inside stadiums for the championship, while police will patrol outside as they monitor for hooligans.

"With all our experience I can guarantee that we have the conditions for a secure Copa America," Cesar Martinez, director of Integrated Operations at the justice and security ministry, told AFP.

Brazil hosted the Confederations Cup in 2013, the World Cup in 2014 and the Olympic Games in 2016 without any major incident.

The risk of violent fans infiltrating the tournament is one of the biggest concerns for Brazil, which will stop known foreign hooligans from entering the country.

Troublesome supporters identified by border control and immigration officers will be turned back, while facial recognition technology will be deployed at games.

Argentina has provided Brazil with a list of some 5,000 local hooligans, otherwise known as the barrabravas, and authorities from the two countries have drawn up plans to prevent them from attending the tournament. The database that includes the names of known hooligans from other countries is being "updated daily," said Martinez.

Security will be stepped up at airports, hotels, roads used foreign delegations and tourist sites.

But unlike the Olympic Games, the military will not patrol the streets of Rio de Janeiro.  

Argentine ref honoured with opener

Argentine referee Néstor Pitana has been chosen by the arbitration commission of CONMEBOL to officiate at the inaugural match of the Copa América, in which Brazil and Bolivia will face off, at Morumbí stadium in São Paulo this Friday (local time 7.30PM).

Pitana is one of the most the most well-respected referees at an international level. At the previous World Cup in Russia he officiated both the inaugural and final matches.

The referee, 43, will be assisted on the sidelines by fellow Argentines Hernán Maidana and Juan P. Belatti, with Ecuadorean national Juan P. Belatte serving as the fourth official.

The match will be the first time in the history of the Copa Amérca that video assistant referee (VAR) will be utilised.

The commission also announced the officiating crews for the subsequent two matches: Colombian Wilmar Roldán will officiate Venezuela-Peru (Saturday 4.30PM) and Chilean national Roberto Tobar will officiate Argentina-Colombia, the first match of Group B (Saturday 7.00PM).

 

- TIMES/AFP

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