Colombia’s pivotal World Cup qualifying match against Ecuador on Friday is a sell out, but fans won’t be the only ones coming out in force in Barranquilla.
Authorities announced Thursday that 1,600 police officers will be on hand to see to security at what is the most important soccer game in recent Colombian history, against one of Colombia’s fiercest rivals.
Spectators have already began flocking to Barranquilla in preparation for Friday’s game, which could all but guarantee Colombia’s passage to the World Cup for the first time since 1998. More than 1,000 Ecuadorians have already made the trip, and reports say the atmosphere has been thick with anticipation for the past week.
Barranquilla’s police chief told reporters things have been mostly calm, and expressed his hopes that the mood remain “festive”. In case it doesn’t, however, the city has taken steps to ensure security before and after Friday’s game.
Besides the additional manpower, police will have full access of the 114 public cameras throughout the city. Taxi service is being altered to improve traffic and passenger flow heading to the stadium. Hotels and commercial centers are already being heavily patrolled by officers, and police forces have devised three rings of security around the Metropolitan Stadium to remain in effect throughout the afternoon and evening Friday. Extra security is expected as well to protect President Juan Manuel Santos, who announced earlier in the week that he would be attending the game with his family.
Police also advised foreigners to be careful attempting to purchase tickets to the sold out event, as at least three bootleggers have already been caught selling fake tickets at exorbitant prices.
Kickoff for the first game in Colombia’s second-to-last round of World Cup Qualifiers is at 3:30pm Friday. Police will be deployed throughout the city as well, to ensure things do not turn overly ugly in the event of a Colombian loss, and keep an eye on celebrations if they win.
Detienen a vendedores de boletos falsos para partido Colombia-Ecuador (Ecuador Inmediato)