PARIS — When the Euro 2016 soccer championship starts here Friday, security guard Salim Toorabally will be at the entrance to the Stade de France to watch over fans with a keen eye for terrorists.
On another Friday last year, Toorabally stopped a bomber from entering the stadium as a string of suicide attacks in Paris killed 130 people. France's soccer match against Germany that Nov. 13 was halted because of the attacks.
Toorabally, considered a local hero after he prevented deaths and helped carry people to safety, said he wanted to be at the stadium for the upcoming match to "show (his) solidarity with the victims."
France is on high alert as it prepares to welcome 10 million fans for Europe's biggest soccer tournament, seven months after the coordinated attacks by the Islamic State on the stadium, downtown restaurants and a music venue shook this city.
President François Hollande acknowledged the terrorist threat Sunday but insisted the tournament would go ahead as planned. And a Frenchman was arrested for plotting terrorist attacks at the soccer tournament, Ukraine’s intelligence agency announced Monday.
Toorabally said he's confident that security measures put into place after the November attacks can keep fans safe in the 10 stadiums around France that will host the Euro 2016 matches.
"I am not at all worried," he said. "We perform body searches. We check inside jackets. We look in the bags."
The Interior Ministry announced about 90,000 security staff are being deployed at strategic locations, such as airports and train stations, to form an "exceptional security apparatus in an exceptional context."
Some doubts remain. "This is pure madness," said Yves Lefebvre, leader of a police union. "It's not realistic to ensure the security of the Euro."
He said police are "exhausted" from enforcing the country's state of emergency introduced after the November attacks and handling a wave of labor strikes and protests sparked by a proposed law.
Recent flooding as the Seine River overflowed its banks added to the city's concerns.
"We are not able to guarantee an optimal level of security," Michel Cadot, head of the Paris Police Prefecture, wrote in a memo to the Interior Ministry, according to a recent report by Le Point newspaper.
His primary concerns include huge, open-access "fan zones" to be set up away from the stadiums so people can watch live transmissions of the games on giant screens.
One at the foot of the Eiffel Tower is designed for up to 92,000 people. Cadot wants it shut down when matches are held in the capital. If not, the lack of manpower will mean "all sites cannot be protected at the same time."
Local officials in Paris' 15th district, where the Eiffel Tower is located, are also uneasy. "The stadiums are way more secure than the fan zones," said Audrey Levavasseur, an aide to the district's mayor. "It represents a real danger. Security is not guaranteed."
The threat of terrorism could be compounded by confrontations between rival team supporters.
"Terror attacks are our first concern, (but) we are afraid of hooligans, of thugs," Levavasseur said.
Carole Combes, owner of Le Suffren restaurant near the Eiffel Tower, is worried the tournament could hurt business.
"We are on the front lines," she complained. "These soccer fans ... can quickly get over-excited. If on top of this, they will have access to booze, it will be catastrophic."
Private security firms have hired 13,000 extra personnel and have been working with authorities for more than a year to prepare for the tournament.
Although, new recruits are still being trained just days before the games start, security firms say they will be ready to provide protection at the venues, operating alongside police.
"Last-minute training for new security agents is still taking place and will continue up until the eve (of the Euro)," said Olivier Duran, spokesman of the National Union of Security Companies. "There will be a huge security deployment at the fan zone."
That should reassure fans hoping to focus on the skills of stars like Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo, Sweden's Zlatan Ibrahimović or Germany's Thomas Müller.
"I am not afraid," said Sarra Cherifi, 22, a teacher trainee. "I hope I won't think about it when I'm in the stadium or the fan zone." She said Euro 2016 "is an opportunity to see the world's greatest players."