Dutch gov't warns Oranje fans to avoid Paris protests ahead of Euro football match
The Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs has advised people traveling to see the Dutch men's national football match on Friday to stay away from demonstrations and disturbances. The Netherlands will play the French national team in Paris on Friday evening in a European Championship qualifier, but there is a great deal of unrest in France due to labor strikes, widespread protests, and some rioting. Those traveling by metro and train will have to take extra travel time into account.
"There are regular demonstrations in France. Sometimes these lead to violence or destruction. Therefore, avoid demonstrations," the ministry's current travel advice to France states. Those who inadvertently find themselves in a demonstration were advised to follow reports from local media, stay informed about the situation, and follow instructions given by local authorities.
France has been dealing with massive demonstrations and blockades for several weeks in response to President Emmanuel Macron's controversial pension reform. Riots have also broken out in various locations across the country. The extended period of unrest led to the Friday morning announcement that the three-day State visit by King Charles to France has been postponed. It was supposed to start on Sunday, but the French government announced at the last minute that it will not take place for the time being.
Despite the ministry's warning, Dutch football fans are not expected to face any difficulties while in France, said Supportersclub Oranje, an organization representing fans of the national men's football team. "I have not yet heard any negative experiences, so, 'So far, so good,'" said Theo Pouw, the chair of Supportersclub Oranje. "Many fans simply take the car on the match day. After all, it is only a few hours away. Moreover, the Oranje fans are somewhat used to something happening."
"Nothing is known to us about fans who have ended up in demonstrations or have been confronted with violence," said a spokesperson for the KNVB, the Dutch football association. "The majority of the fans will also arrive on Friday, while the strike peak was reached on Thursday. It is not expected that Dutch fans will be inconvenienced by the unrest, riots and strikes on Friday."
The game kicks off at 8:45 p.m. on Friday night. It is expected that there will be about 2,600 Oranje fans in the Stade de France on Friday evening. The stadium has a seating capacity of 80,000.
Reporting by ANP