2010: A safety-first approach from the Germans?

Germany’s 2010 World Cup stars were reportedly warned on Wednesday to expect to wear bulletproof vests if they venture away from the team hotel at next year’s tournament in South Africa.

The head of Leverkusen-based security firm BaySecur, which looks after the German Football Federation (DFB) and their guests when the national team plays away from Germany, says their stars like Michael Ballack must take extra care in South Africa.

BaySecur is one of the firms expected to be employed by the DFB while the team is involved in the tournament, which runs from June 11 until July 11 when the final will be held at Johannesburg’s Soccer City stadium.

“The possibility for the players of moving outside of the hotel boundaries should be kept to a minimum,” BaySecur’s Guenter Schnelle told German magazine Sport-Bild.

“Otherwise there must be a full escort: armed security guards and bulletproof vests for the players.”

However, the Star on Thursday reported that it had contacted Schnelle on Wednesday, and he claimed the journalist who wrote the article had “invented” the comments.

“He denied ever discussing bulletproof vests and bodyguards with the journalists and said he had been dragged over the coals for what emerged in the media,” the Star reported.

According to Business Day, “Treasurer of the German Football Federation and the CEO of Germany’s 2006 Fifa World Cup organising committee Horst R Schmidt said in a statement forwarded by South Africa’s local organising committee that the BaySecur spokesperson was not speaking on behalf of the DFB.

The DFB is already looking to step up security around the team hotel in Pretoria for the World Cup.

Because of high crime rates in the South Africa, the DFB are taking no risks with security, says their security boss Helmut Spahn, and are looking to recruit 20 extra security guards for the team’s stay at their five-star accommodation.

Private bodyguards will protect the players both within and around the Velmore Grande hotel in Gauteng.

“We will probably use more personnel than we would normally have,” said Spahn, who will spend four days in South Africa next week looking at security arrangements.

“We need to first of all get an idea of what security arrangements are already in place for both the team and the media.

“Then we will decide then whether to improve the security measures or whether they are sufficient.”

According to Spahn, there is little chance the DFB will rely only on local security guards in South Africa and Germany’s federal police force is already in discussions with the DFB on the issue.

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