The protester used a motorized paraglider with a motor attached to his back but lost control and struck the camera wires hanging from the roof of the stadium, passing over the heads of spectators before landing on the front pitch Tuesday’s game. Debris fell on the pitch and the main stand, narrowly missing France coach Didier Deschamps. German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman on Wednesday criticized Greenpeace’s coup and said those behind should reflect on what happened.
“It was an irresponsible action that put people in great danger,” said Steffen Seibert, adding that it was a relief that nothing more serious had happened.
Greenpeace spokesman Benjamin Stephan apologized for the botched protest and the injuries caused.
“The paraglider didn’t want to enter the stadium yesterday. The pilot wanted to fly over the stadium while maintaining the necessary safety distance and only let a balloon float in the stadium with a message to Volkswagen, a main sponsor, with the request that they exit the production of diesel engines faster. and gasoline harmful to the climate, ”said Stephan.
“And there was a technical problem during the flyby – the throttle of the electric paramotor failed, and since there was no more thrust, the glider suddenly lost height. “
Police snipers had a pilot in their sights
Stephan said the pilot had no choice but to make an emergency landing on the field after hitting the steel cables attached to the stadium roof.
“We are in the process of clarifying this and working with everyone and of course we take responsibility and would like to reiterate that we are very sorry and apologize to the two people who were injured,” Stephan said. .
Bavarian Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann said snipers had their sights set on the pilot.
“Due to the Greenpeace logo, it was decided not to involve the snipers,” Herrmann told the Bild tabloid. “If the police had come to any other conclusion, that it was a terrorist attack, the pilot might have had to pay for the action with his life. “
Seibert called on the organizers to “think critically about the purpose of such actions, which aim for maximum spectacle for maximum public relations effect. This leads to such situations which potentially put the public at risk ”.
The local police had previously blasted “such irresponsible actions in which a considerable risk to human life is accepted”.
“This must disturb us and alarm us”
Police spokesman Andreas Franken said the two men who were injured both sustained minor head injuries and have since been released from hospital. They had worked on the game.
The 38-year-old pilot, who has an address in the southwestern state of Baden-Württemberg, was not injured. He was released Tuesday night but is still under investigation on a range of charges, including obstruction of air traffic and bodily harm, as well as disturbing public order, Franken said.
Franken said security measures will be tightened for Saturday’s game between Germany and Portugal, but declined to give further details.
“Of course, this will cause us to review our measures and, if necessary, adapt them,” Franken said. “This must disturb and alarm us, and lead us to review our concept. “
The protester’s parachute carried the slogan “KICK OUT OIL!” And “Greenpeace” written on it.
The parachutist managed to land on the field and German players Antonio Rudiger and Robin Gosens were the first to approach him. He was then taken away by security guards.
A “reckless and dangerous” action
UEFA called the action “reckless and dangerous” and said “the judicial authorities will take the necessary measures”.
The German Football Association also condemned the action.
“It probably could have been a lot worse,” said Germany team spokesman Jens Grittner.
UEFA and one of its main tournament sponsors, Russian state energy company Gazprom, have previously been the target of Greenpeace protests.
In 2013, a Champions League match in Basel was disrupted when Greenpeace activists rappelled from the stadium roof to unfurl a banner protesting against Russian oil and Gazprom, which sponsored the visiting team, German club Schalke. .
Greenpeace then made a donation to a Basel-backed charity, which was fined by UEFA for breach of security.
UEFA defended its environmental credentials in a statement Tuesday after the incident.
“UEFA and its partners are fully committed to a sustainable Euro 2020 tournament,” said UEFA, “and many initiatives have been implemented to offset carbon emissions”.