Mutschke: Protests should not impact U-20s
© LOC

FIFA Director of Security Ralf Mutschke has expressed his belief that the FIFA U-20 World Cup Turkey 2013 will not be adversely impacted by the ongoing protests in Istanbul.

The former INTERPOL director met with Vice Governor of Istanbul Aziz Mercan and Erdem Iren, Sports Division Police Representative, who reassured him that the issues currently being seen in the city would not affect the competition.

"The overall message from the governor is Istanbul and Turkey are safe and they envisage no problems," Mutschke said, following the meeting.

"I raised the concerns from FIFA regarding the security of [our headquarters in Istanbul] and the tournament in particular and discussed the possible impacts of the demonstrations which we have witnessed over the past few days, as well as the police reaction.

"[The Vice Governor] was very open with us and he understood our concerns. He ensured us that there is no security risk for the teams and all the tournament locations which, from what I have seen, I would agree with."

With events over the weekend seeing increased intervention from the local police force, Mutschke felt it was important to gain the most up-to-date information on the current situation and keep the local authorities briefed on FIFA's view on security. Prompt channels have been opened to see this continue throughout the duration of competition, which runs from 21 June-13 July, should things develop.

"It's good we had the opportunity to raise our concerns, I believe they took it seriously and we agreed that they are going to inform us about any change in their threat assessment to the competition, the teams or any tournament locations."

Tournament not at risk
The matches themselves are not believed to be at risk, as well as hotels occupied by team members or FIFA staff, with protests being sporadically spread around the centre of Istanbul and no demonstrations believed to be planned for the stadiums themselves.

"Regarding the tournament, the protesters are not targeting the competition, so it is not an issue. All intelligence the governor has is telling us that there will be no problems in the stadiums, and that is also in line with our assessment from a security point of view."

Assurances were also provided that policing of the events and transport systems would operate as normal.

The stance remains for those involved with the tournament to maintain a safe distance from any altercations between those involved in the protests themselves. "In regards to FIFA staff our advice was, and still is, to keep away from the protests and try to not get in between the protesters and the police."