Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Ultra violence shakes French football nine months before the Olympics

“Disgust and shame”. That was the resounding headline of ‘L’Equipe’ on Monday. The only way to accompany the photo in which Fabio Grosso, coach of Olympique Lyonnais, He appeared with a completely bloody face.. The consequence of the stoning of the southeastern France team bus by the ultras of the Olympique de Marseille which forced the suspension of the match. The sublimation of violence that has become routine in the Ligue 1, which once again projects a chaotic image just as it negotiates the sale of audiovisual rights for abroad. And he does it just eight months before Paris 2024 Olympic Gameswhose opening ceremony and various modalities will take place in the streets of the capital.

“We need to ban stadiums for these idiots, who ruined the party for 67,000 spectators. They must be banned from entering stadiums for five years. Same as those Nazi salutes and homophobic hate songs! Or the cries of ‘monkey’. Out! They cannot have a place in our fields. What a shame! “That’s what I want to tell you,” he declared. Amélie Oudéa-Castéra, Minister of Sports and the Olympic Games of France. The xenophobic insults he refers to came from Lyon fans in what was known as ‘Choc des Olympiques’.

Marcelino’s resignation at Marseille

It was not the first nor will it be the last time for either of them. In March 2018, UEFA accused Lyon ultras of displaying Nazi symbols and attacking a black man. Just a few weeks ago, the Marseille fans threatened the Spaniards with death Pablo Longoria, president of the club, and Marcelino García Toral, his coach. “I am aware that not everything is perfect, just as I am about to embark on the most difficult period of my mandate, but I remain determined to continue my mission,” said the top president in the face of ultra pressure.

The Olympique de Marseille ultras are the ones that cause the most incidents in Ligue 1. Europa Press

The Asturian resigned: “The working conditions are not adequate to carry out our profession normally”. Because the coaches, and even the directives, are forced to be accountable every week to the most extreme sectors. After the attack, Grosso, with his face bandaged, He came out to greet the fans who waited for hours at the Vélodrome for security reasons. Lyon, one of the greats of French football, occupies an unusual last position. Grosso took office after the dismissal of Laurent Blanc and an interim period.

For its part, Gérald Darmanin, French Interior Minister, confirmed that “nine arrests” had been made. and that “five police officers” had been injured. Likewise, he defended the actions of the security forces and aligned himself with the head of the Sports portfolio, Oudéa-Castéra, pointing out to the clubs: “It is up to them to manage their fans”. Finally, Darmanin recalled that during the season “three amateur trips have been prohibited, two of them related to Olympique de Marseille.”

The promotion of ultras by PSG

However, the French state There is no question of prohibiting visitor travel by decree, as happens, for example, in the Argentine league, “because that would generate more problems.” But conflict in stadiums is a constant on the rise. This same season, The Montpellier-Clermont match had to be interrupted in injury time due to the launching of firecrackers that hit Mory Diaw, the visiting team’s goalkeeper. At the end of last season, Christophe Galtier, then PSG coach, confronted the stands of his former team, Nice, who displayed a banner against his mother, “who is 83 years old and has just overcome cancer”.

In Nantes there is an open conflict between the club’s security director, David Amaré, and the Brigade Loire, whose emblems were banned. This happened after negligence on the part of Amaré and the department he commands.unable to intervene in the attack suffered by a Marseille fan. Due to the tension of the moment, the fan’s father had a heart attack. The ultras of the team from the second most populated city in France were involved this season in an attack on two Tolouse fans in a service area.

In the ‘Derby du Nord’, which faces Lille and Lens, security is always reinforced. Especially after in 2021, a fight in the middle of the game between violent fans caused the game to be stopped. That same year, Álvaro González, Spanish defender of Olympique de Marseille, suffered an attack when trying to stop an assault on training. This summer, the most radical fans of the Parisian team They threatened Vlahovica Juventus forward who was rumored to reinforce Luis Enrique’s team. “If you come, we will cut off all three of your fingers.”they painted on a banner, in reference to the celebration that the forward held with his team, Serbia, and that defends authority over Kosovo.

Fabio Grosso greets Olympique Lyon fans after the attack. Olympique de Lyon

The PSG ultras threatened Messi and Neymar last season, among others, who ended up leaving the team in the summer period. The case of the Parisians is paradigmatic of how the ‘ultra beast’ was fed by the clubs themselves. The capital team’s management encouraged the growth of the Kop of Boulogne collective. When Canal + became a shareholder, the creation of another group (Auteuil) was encouraged to have two shares. The consequences were catastrophic. In 2010, the death of a Kop member led president Robin Leproux to ban season tickets for all hooligans. In 2017, Nasser Al-Khelaïfi decided to return the cards to a shock force that is difficult to use.

The Rugby World Cup as an example for football

Hence the authorities always target the clubs. In 2009, The Ministry of the Interior created a specific police division to combat ultra-violence. Since 2016 there has been a law that regulates relations between high authorities and fans. But the situation remains the same or worse. Only the pandemic managed to relax the trend and the return of the public to the stadiums caused a rebound effect, with record of matches behind closed doors, grandstand closures or restrictions on movement.

This upsurge in ultra violence comes in less than eight months for the Paris Olympic Games, which, in addition, will be more on the streets than everto. The ceremony, which traditionally takes place in the Olympic stadium of the host city, in this edition will take place on the Seine, the river that crosses Paris. In the memory of the football fan there is still the terrible management of the 2022 Champions League final, in which UEFA was declared responsible for the chaos generated.

Hence, despite her fierce criticism, Amélie Oudéa-Castéra, Minister of Sports and the Olympics, concluded her position on the Olympique de Marseille – Olympique de Lyon incidents by assuring that “Football is not a lost cause, but it would be very good to look at other disciplinesparticularly the rugby“. France has just successfully closed the celebration of the oval sport world cup, which took place between September 8 and September 28. “When we see how this tournament has gone, we know that it is possible to do it with football, but that requires determined collective work, with legal and extremely severe actions, both from the clubs and the league.”

One of the ‘tyfos’ deployed by the PSG ultras. Europa Press


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