“Evening of Chaos”, “Flop of the Organization”, “Hordes of Barbarians”. The European press failed to qualify for the clashes that took place last Saturday during the match between Real Madrid and the Liverpool team at the Stade de France. Then place the tabloid The sun of London doesn’t hesitate to call it “Stade de Farce”.
Seldom has France’s image abroad been damaged so much. Chaos, fraud, infiltrations, serial attacks, tear gas, arrests: these are just some of the incidents that marked the Champions League final that took place in Seine-Saint-Denis, a northern suburb of Paris.
On the evening of the events, the Interior Minister, Gérald Darmanin, did not hesitate, on Twitterto attribute the responsibility to the “thousands of British ‘supporters’, with no tickets or with false tickets” [qui] intruding, and sometimes attacking the stewards”. According to him, between 30,000 and 40,000 people with fake tickets, or without tickets, had to be filtered at the entrance of the stadium, causing the crowd. According to Agence France-Presse, the French Football Association estimates and the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) the number of “scanned fake tickets” previously at “2800”. Among these 2,800 fake tickets may be real tickets that have been activated incorrectly, says Pierre Barthélemy, an observer present near the stadium for the Football Supporters Europe association.
Although families and the elderly have complained about the negligent use of tear gas, Paris police chief Didier Lallement defended the 6,800 police officers mobilized for the occasion. They did the essential, the prefect said, as the match took place and safety was assured “with no deaths or serious injuries”.
But once the testimonials were collected, it soon became clear that the reality was more complex. Thousands of Liverpool supporters who arrived late due to a public transport strike are known to still queue outside the gates when the game was scheduled to start. We also know that as many began to panic at the prospect of missing the start of the race, the Prefect decided to lift the RER D’s pre-filtering in the event of a disaster to “avoid a tragedy,” he said.
It was during this mass movement that, according to the French press, several hundred young people from the area mingled with the supporters to rob them and sow chaos. “It was people who didn’t support either team who forced entry,” the magazine said the Obs Pierre Barthélemy of the Football Supporters Europe association.
Neither the images nor the numbers for entry into the territory seem to confirm the “30 to 40,000” holders of counterfeit tickets mentioned by the Minister of the Interior. Gérald Darmanin said during an interview on TF1 that 29 arrests had been made at the stadium, half of them British without tickets. He adds that of the 52 arrests that took place outside the stadium, only 12 were foreigners, mostly North Africans. The others would all be French. According to various media, including:
The scandal is so big in France and abroad that Gérald Darmanin and his colleague from Sport, Amélie Oudéa-Castéra, will have to answer questions from members of a Senate committee on Wednesday. In London the reactions were quick. According to the images of these events “deeply disturbing and disturbing”, Prime Minister Boris Johnson demanded that UEFA investigate the French authorities. Paris Mayor of Liverpool Joanne Anderson described the behavior of the French police as “absolutely disgusting”.
The most scathing response came from Liverpool club president Tom Werner, who says British supporters have been “treated like cattle”. He called the accusations of Amélie Oudéa-Castéra, who accused England supporters and claimed that the British club “had left their supporters in the wild”, “irresponsible”.
Less than two weeks before the first round of the parliamentary elections, President Emmanuel Macron has chosen to remain silent. These incidents come at the worst time for the new government, which was appointed just over a week ago. On the left, La France insoumise’s candidate, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, denounced “a complete failure of police strategy”. On the right, we prefer to blame “the scum” of the suburbs. A controversy that cannot be avoided by the President, who personally took the initiative to organize this competition originally planned in Saint Petersburg. This also explains why the organizers only benefited from three months of preparation, rather than the usual year.
Important upcoming events
The controversy is all the more fierce as the country expects millions of visitors to attend the Rugby World Cup in the fall of 2023 and the Olympics in the summer of 2024. In high places, we question the capacity of the country and its security forces to take on a challenge. “In France, faced with an altercation, the authorities are not seeking de-escalation, they are sending police officers to the field who arbitrarily use their resources,” the daily stressed. The worldsociologist Sebastian Roche.
For others, this violence is a symptom of the worsening tensions in French society. “The stands have become battlefields,” writes in Le Figaro professor of philosophy Robert Redeker, author of Sports I love you too (Robert Laffont). According to him, the violence of the stadiums is the same that we now see in almost all trade union or political demonstrations.
“France has subscribed to violence” […] the government accepts it as if it were a ritual”, says Redeker, who sees an effect of the atomization of French society. “Our country is less and less a people, less and less a nation, more and more a multitude of individuals immersed in anomie. †
On RMC radio, a young man from Seine-Saint-Denis told how, taking advantage of the chaos, he had slipped into a crowd of supporters to enter the stadium for free. Since then, he says, he would have become the “star” of his high school.