Colombia is leaving nothing to chance to ensure a safe Under-20 World Cup beginning Friday as it has tightened security across the nation.
Security was always going to be a major concern in this South American country as a result of the government’s running war with the rebel guerilla group FARC.
Officials said FARC has now been widely seen as a group out to protect the narcotics trade. Colombia has
been notorious as the government has eliminated most of the leadership of the guerilla group with whatever is left of the guerillas now hemmed in the jungle.
The government now wishes to use the Under-20 World Cup as a platform to further announce to the world that Colombia is safe and open for more business with the outside world.
President Juan Manuel Santos has within a year of assuming office improved Colombia’s economy and his government is winning the war against the drugs trade.
Colombia beat fellow South Americans Venezuela to the hosting rights for one of FIFA’s most successful tournaments, which has produced stars from Diego Maradona to Lionel Messi.
Security forces have undergone special drills to ensure the safety of teams and fans during the 24-team tournament from July 29 to August 20 across eight Colombian cities.
Through searches on both visitors and staff members are conducted at the Las Camelias Hotel Campestre in Armenia, which will quarter four teams, namely Nigeria, Croatia, Saudi Arabia and Guatemala.
And before the Flying Eagles first training in Armenia Monday afternoon, the police anti-bomb squad had to make sure everything was in order before approval was given for the team to train there.
At the training ground, there were over a dozen anti-riot policemen fully decked in their combat clothes, mounted troops as well as regular police and other security personnel to make sure no harm comes to the Nigerian team.
Regular policemen fully armed have swarmed the hotel in Armenia and officials disclosed that their number is expected to grow when the other teams in Group D check into it.
FIFA officials have said the teams should feel at home because the strong police presence is to make sure their safety is not compromised at any time during the biennial tournament.
Also as part of the strict security measures, officials have ordered that no person who does not have accreditation will be allowed into the team bus.
There would most likely be security checks on even the players and officials before matches