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Extra Protection for German Team in Paris

Recent rioting in Paris convinced German soccer officials to send a pair of bodyguards with the national team playing France in Paris on Saturday. But, problems aren't expected during the international friendly.

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Thousands of extra police will work to keep riots from breaking out

Curfews may have taken the edge off much of the rioting in the suburbs outside of Paris. But, France on Saturday enforced a ban on gatherings that could cause trouble in Paris and thousands of police patrolled the capital to prevent urban violence reaching the heart of the city.

German Soccer Association (DFB) officials are keeping their eye on the security situation at Saturday night's exhibition friendly in the Stade de France, located in Paris' St. Denis suburb -- one of the centers of the last two weeks' nightly riots. But, no one has considered canceling the match.

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A major highway sets the Stade de France from major rioting

"The way things look at the moment there is no direct danger, neither for the players nor for the game," Alfred Sengle, head of DFB security, told Sport1.de.

Still, Sengle and French stadium security officials remember how Zinedine Zidane, Thierry Henry, Robert Pires and the rest of the French and Algerian teams rushed to the locker rooms when spectators were able to storm the field during a 2001 exhibition match -- a situation no one wants to see repeated.

Over 4,000 extra police on patrol

Partly in response to what French security officials called an "unusually high number" of subversive e-mails and text messages, there will be an additional 2,000 police officers patrolling the stadium and surrounding areas and 2,200 more in central Paris.

The DFB said two bodyguards will be traveling with the German team, mainly to help guarantee the team's security at the hotel, Le Meredien Etoile. Visiting international teams normally leave all security measures to local authorities.

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Players are concentrating on soccer, not security

"Naturally we hope that everything goes well and that we can concentrate on sports, but we don't want to leave anything to chance," German team manager Oliver Bierhoff said this week.

Though the players have not commented on playing in a city that has produced nightly images of burning cars, German coach Jürgen Klinsmann said he'd take some extra time to give his players a run-down on the political situation.

"We'll brief them on the situation and give them the necessary information, just like we have done at other international matches," he said.

2,000 Germans expected to make trip to Paris

Trouble is also possible from Germany's fans, who are not known for their openness and tolerance during soccer matches.

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Not all German fans are out for a good time

During the 1998 World Cup in France, hundreds of German hooligans battled with riot police in Lens and brutally beat Gendarme Daniel Nivel into a coma. The DFB said in a statement that it had personally invited Nivel, his wife and two sons to a game of the 2006 World Cup in Germany, as a gesture of reconciliation.

The attack on Nivel left him in a coma for six weeks and permanently brain damaged. He still has difficulties moving and speaking and cannot remember what happened.

More recently, 40 German fans were arrested in Slovenia for rioting that involved over 200 fans during a March international.

But German soccer and security officials have spent much more time with keeping German fans safe, rather than focusing on possible confrontations between German hooligans and rioters.

The German Foreign Ministry has warned the some 2,000 fans expected to travel to Paris to be especially aware of their surroundings. And, German insurers are also cautioning fans who plan to drive their cars to the match that their policies likely won't cover any damage should things get out of hand.

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