Republic of Ireland boss Martin O’Neill trusts security chiefs ahead of Euro 2016

Martin O'Neill
Martin O'Neill

Republic of Ireland boss Martin O’Neill would reluctantly accept playing Euro 2016 games behind closed doors if the ongoing terror threat meant that was the only alternative.

UEFA insisted on Wednesday that it had no plans to keep supporters out of games at this summer’s finals in France in the wake of Tuesday’s attacks in Brussels.

However, O’Neill admitted that, should security chiefs decide that is the best solution to guarantee the safety of all involved, they would have to do it.

He said: “If someone wants to make an attack as happened yesterday, it’s very, very difficult to deal with that, but overall the security that we’re being provided with is really excellent and like everything else, I’d comply with anything that is happening.

“There’s talk about matches being played behind closed doors, but the safety of people is of paramount importance and anything that is agreed upon, we will fall in line.

“If that is an alternative and it’s the only alternative, then if we are going to have the competition, we may have to comply with it.”

Ian Mallon, the Football Association of Ireland’s director of communications, confirmed that the FAI is engaged in an ongoing security process and that it would be guided by the experts.

Mallon said: “Obviously Belgium has re-focussed attention on this terrible phenomenon of global terror.

“We at the FAI would be led by An Garda Siochana, the Department of Foreign Affairs and UEFA in all matters relating to security around Euro 2016 and we are in regular dialogue and consultation, and a process was already there pre-yesterday.

“We are absolutely engaged with that process and it continues, sadly.”

Heightened security around the tournament is likely to have repercussions for both Ireland and their fans around their base in Versailles, with the atmosphere unlikely to be as relaxed as it was in Sopot four years ago.

O’Neill said: “The hotel that has been sorted out for us is actually very, very good. The possibility of players going into the town now might be a bit of an issue, whereas we though before that it looked really lovely.

“The town there, Versailles itself, is just really excellent, and it’s only a three, four, five-minute walk as well, so all of those things looked pretty good.

“If, of course, security is tightened as it probably will be, then maybe the players might have to stay closer to the hotel.

“I don’t think we want to turn away supporters, but at the same time security, I think people will realise that it might be very, very tight.”