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Bobbies Draw World Cup Duty in Berlin

In the past, British plainclothes police have accompanied English soccer events abroad. For the World Cup in Germany, uniformed officers will be present in a further attempt to stamp out hooliganism in advance.

A bit of home in Germany: England fans can expect bobby presence

A bit of home in Germany: England fans can expect bobby presence

Supporters of English soccer traveling abroad have long been accustomed to escorts by plainclothes British officers. Soon, they could have the feeling of being a little more at home when they travel to Germany for next year's World Cup.

After talks with their German counterparts this week at the British embassy in Berlin, British police officials are leaning towards sending uniformed police officers abroad for the first time .

David Swift, the deputy chief constable of Staffordshire believes recognizable policemen and women will help to defuse potential trouble.

"They would not have powers of arrest but they would be there in a sort of bobby-on-the-beat role," Swift, also the Association of Chief Police Officers' official responsible for soccer disorder told The Guardian. "They would offer a familiar presence and help increase communication with supporters."

An ounce of prevention

Police and security officials will take every precaution necessary in preventing violence between British and German fans. About 3,000 blacklisted English supporters must surrender their passports ahead of World Cup games according to information given The Times. Overall, up to 80,000 England fans are expected to come to Germany for the tournament.

Hooligans in Charleroi, Euro 2000

English and German hooligans clashed in Charleroi, Belgium at the Euro 2000

Officials are also considering trial runs at English matches, such as August's game with Denmark in Copenhagen, said Swift. In addition, the British Foreign Office will spend an additional 500,000 British pounds (725,000 euros) to beef up its consular operation in Germany.

With strong security measures in and around the stadiums, many are more concerned about what could happen at public venues, where hundreds of fans can gather to watch the game.

One official told the The Times that German hooligans, most of whom won't get tickets, could pick fights while drinking in public in front of any one of the thousands of big screen televisions that will be set up in bars across the country. Large scenes of hooligans rioting in Berlin would blemish the Cup's image immensely, something German police officials are all too aware of.

"Billions of people will be watching the Cup. We have to do everything to make it work," said Gottrick Wewer, of the German Interior Ministry.

Foundation betters ties

Communication between the sides at all levels and at all points of contact could help. German police and taxi drivers are supposed to learn English. Wewer told The Guardian that the success of dealing with potentially violent fans at the Euro 2004 in Portugal should be a lesson to Germany as well. A low-key, but strong, police presence should lower the possibility of violence between England and Germany supporters.

Bernd Trautmann

Legendary Manchester City goalie, Bernd "Bert" Trautmann, epitomizes peaceful relations between English and German soccer

The Bernd Trautmann Foundation, named after the legendary German goalkeeper at Manchester City in the 1950's, when the effects of World War II were still omnipresent, looks to smooth out tensions between Germans and English.

"We want to offer events in a World Cup project that bring people together," said Matthias Paskowsky, chairman of the foundation. "Our focus is on English fans and we want to make them feel particularly welcome."

German Interior Minister Otto Schily does not want to leave any stone unturned though. The fun for fans shouldn't be reduced by excessive security measures he said recently but hooligans can expect a zero tolerance strategy.

On May 25, Schily and the interior ministers of the 16 federal states will meet in Stuttgart to hammer out a final plan so that in all 12 World Cup cities, hooliganism will not be able to set root.

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