Fearing rowdy fans who could spoil the tournament, Swiss authorities turned part of Geneva's giant convention center into a hooligan prison.This is the worst thing about World Soccer.
Columns of wooden cells accommodating up to four detainees each now stand in Palexpo Center.
"They need to do something wrong to get in," police spokesman Jean-Philippe Brandt said Thursday, standing next to fences separating the 48 hooligan "modules" from the area where officers will stand guard once the 192-capacity jail is populated by violent soccer fans.
Against the background of a largely peaceful World Cup organized by neighboring Germany two years ago, Swiss authorities are trying to make sure this month's tournament ends without major incidents. But a total of 7,000 offenses and about 9,000 arrests and temporary detentions reported by German police during the 2006 tournament shows there is always reason to worry.
The passion for the game is intense and for me part of the immense thrill of soccer. However, hooligans have given the game a bad name and that has to stop. The worst part about is that the true hooligan is a fraction of one percent of the soccer fandom, but they get the get the most attention and bring the most negative media attention to the game.
Even so, the vaunted Swiss efficiency is interesting:
The exact cost of the hooligan prison is in "hundreds of thousands" of euros, Brandt said.In light of the incident in Manchester after the UEFA cup final, no one is taking any chances. Good.
It's dark and gloomy inside the modules built by the Swiss Army, which will reuse them after the tournament. The cells have no windows but a small opening on top that allows 24-hour surveillance through police cameras.
Outside the cells, there's almost everything one might need during the day: showers, bathrooms, tables to eat on and microwave ovens. At the far end of the row of cells is a makeshift prayer area with prayer rugs and a compass. On a desk next to it are a bible, a Jewish prayer book and a Quran.
Detainees will spend no more than 24 hours in the prison. During their second day, they will either be deported to their home countries or stand trial in Switzerland, depending on the nature of their crimes.
Pointing toward the Geneva International Airport near the convention center, Brandt said mockingly: "We have the planes right here so it's easy. No trouble, just bye-bye."