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German police conduct massive training exercise ahead of Euro 2024

STÜTZERBACH (AP) – An idyllic springtime morning in the sleepy village of Stützerbach was disturbed on Tuesday with hundreds of German police taking on “football hooligans” in preparation for the European Championship.

Birds were chirping and golden sunshine was starting to warm a new day when a train of trouble arrived to shatter the peaceful scene at the village train station.

Some 200 trainee police officers were on board to play the role of violent football fans.

They were met by local state police, who quickly called hundreds of federal police to assist as the situation was simulated toward getting out of hand. The train’s walls shook as the “hooligans” rampaged inside, singing, chanting and cheering.

They burst out of the train when the federal police arrived, setting off loud pyrotechnics that sent clouds of red and white smoke up to the clear blue sky.

Germany hosts the European Championship from June 14 to July 14, when security will be a priority with hundreds of thousands of fans expected for the 24-country football tournament. “As police we have to be prepared because there’s the potential risk of hooligans or violent people. Today we use the chance to train for those circumstances, how to stop them, how to communicate with them, and also how to force them if they’ve done any trouble,” Thuringia police spokesman Karsten Täschner told The Associated Press.

“The main goal of today’s practice is to see how the federal and the state police are cooperating together.”

Altogether around 600 police were involved in Tuesday’s training, including about 100 off-site officers and the 200 police trainees.

Hundreds of German local state police and federal police practice tactics in preparation for the European Championship in the village of Stützerbach, in Ilmenau, Germany. PHOTO: AP