Portugal set for Euro 2004

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src=' ' class='caption'> Just days away from the start of Euro 2004, the Portuguese hosts are giving the final touches to the event.

updated: February 25, 2007 10:07 IST
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Just days away from the start of Euro 2004, the Portuguese hosts are giving the final touches on what they hope will be a festival of football. One of most important issues being dealt with by the Portuguese authorities is security. The security forces re-established controls on the borders and increased presence in the cities which are about to receive an influx of football fans to watch the matches. The Schengen agreement, a European Union agreement that establishes free circulation of citizens within the union's borders, has been temporarily postponed during the duration of the tournament to facilitate the checks made by the security forces. Immigration officials said that they have already refused entry to around a 1000 people, mostly due to a failure to present the appropriate travel documents. Antonio Patricio, Immigration Services Regional Director said the Portuguese authorities are cross-checking information with their European partners. Last touches are being added to the work already done in preparation for the tournament. Video screens have been installed at beaches throughout the country, such as Faro, capital of the sea resort region of Algarve where Spain will play Russia, attracting vast numbers of Spanish football fans. In order to avoid scenes of hooliganism seen in previous tournaments, the British and the Portuguese authorities have been working closely together to provide all the assistance to authentic English supporters whilst over 2000 known troublemakers have been banned to enter the country. Gary Fisher, British Embassy attachi for football affairs said that the British and Portuguese police are networking to guarantee a safe tournament. However, some business owners in the popular holiday resort of Albufeira, Algarv e, are concerned that the presence of the tournament will be bad for business. Many England fans will be based in the Algarve and will travel north to watch England's matches. So far 1,500 fans have travelled to Portugal and no incidents have been reported. Numbers are expected to increase markedly over the next 48 hours in the build up to Sunday's match, the first of England's three group games over an eight-day period. (AP)