Prague police are bracing themselves for their busiest weekend of the year – and not just because of England’s Euro 2020 qualifier against the Czech Republic on Friday.
Some 250,000 mourners are expected in the city over the next 48 hours for the state funeral of national icon Karel Gott.
He has been described as the most famous man in the Czech Republic – a cross between Frank Sinatra, Tom Jones and Mick Jagger – who released more than 100 albums and is said to have sold 100 million records.
His funeral will be a sombre and significant occasion for Czechs and thousands of his fans, who are also expected to travel from Germany.
England fans have been asked to be on their best behaviour by British ambassador Nick Archer.
There are risks associated with England playing a game on a Friday night in a city like Prague, but UEFA turned down a request from the UK police to move the fixture. The Czech authorities are confident that was the right call.
Yes, Prague will be exceptionally busy this weekend, but the police are confident they have the resources to cope with a state funeral and an international football match.
Chief Superintendent Stephen Graham revealed police forces in Britain and the Czech Republic had been discussing tactics since the fixtutres were first announced.
Graham told Sky Sports News: “It asks an awful lot of the local police to try to distinguish the few fans who might be misbehaving and then hundreds or thousands of fans in the city who may be tarred by the same brush and that’s what we are keen to look at.”
Despite the state funeral, along with the planned climate protests, affecting Prague at the weekend, Graham believes the authorities will handle the extra demands.
He added: “We are expecting a large influx of people for the funeral and state processions and the threat of local disorder around that is small and it is going to cause a real headache, but the the Czech and Prague police are confident they can still cope.”