germans braced for sa war zone

GERMANY'S World Cup stars were warned yesterday to wear bullet-proof vests if they venture out of the team hotel at next year's tournament in South Africa.

GERMANY'S World Cup stars were warned yesterday to wear bullet-proof vests if they venture out of the team hotel at next year's tournament in South Africa.

The head of Leverkusen-based security firm BaySecur, who look 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 that 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 bullet-proof vests for the players."

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

Because of high crime rates in the republic, the DFB is taking no chances with security, says their security boss Helmut Spahn, and is 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 whether to improve the security measures or whether they are sufficient."

According to Spahn, there is little chance that 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. - Sapa-AFP

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