Endemic violence in the stands and around the stadiums: « In France, inappropriate sanctions »


The club season has just ended on a dark weekend, with serious overflows in Saint-Étienne and the fiasco of the Stade de France. Are these drifts still regulable?

(Nicolas Hourdade) I hope so anyway! What is striking in this last weekend is that it concentrated all the excesses seen this year: violence from supporters, inability of organizers to avoid incidents. We have seen that measures, particularly concerning the invasion of lawns, have been overwhelmed. We should be able to avoid that.

Should we put back fences then?

In Nice, they reviewed the device after the shortcomings of Nice-Marseille. We condemned the first rows, we put back nets, anti-intrusion barriers that do not hurt people unlike the gates. The question of security by the stewards also requires specific training and also increased salaries… We do not manage a crowd at the stadium like customers at the entrance to a supermarket…

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It is obvious that things could have been better organized », admits Gérald Darmanin after the fiasco at the Stade de France

We hear all this, but what about the penalties for troublemakers?

France has adopted a very specific position in this area in the event of an incident. We favor collective measures (closing a forum, travel ban, etc.) rather than targeting violent individuals. In England and Germany, which also experienced problems in the 80s and 90s, they identified these people by removing them from the stadiums. There are very few individual punishments in France. These collective measures also have very concrete adverse effects. When we prohibit the mass travel of supporters and a European Cup final occurs, we no longer know how to manage flows. We saw it in Saint-Denis. And we end up punishing everyone rather than the troublemakers who, once the collective sanction has been exercised, return to the stadium!

Forgive me, but it seems so basic as a reflection!

Yes, I agree, but that’s the crux of the problem. You have to be aware that an individual ban requires resources, with the most serious cases being managed by the courts. You also need a police follow-up. We have all the device or cameras necessary for this! We give the impression of hitting hard by punishing collectively and it costs less… But it is not effective.

“Yes, in France, we repress badly”

Why have the English and Germans succeeded where we, in France, seem to be failing?

Part of the answer comes from the fact that in these countries, we consider football as something important… And therefore, we prefer to target dangerous individuals rather than prohibit an entire population from moving around. In England, there are antagonisms as strong as between Lyon and Saint-Étienne. This does not prevent the movement of supporters. But violent people are quickly pushed aside.
n So we’re hitting the mark? France prefers to close the stands rather than to individualize the sanctions. We repress badly yes. Everyone is punished rather than the main culprits. The penalties are ill-suited. It is first necessary to identify the breakers to seek compensation. If not, it’s complicated…

We come back to the last weekend. Uneventful European Rugby Cup finals in Marseille, scenes of jubilation the next day in La Rochelle. With football, the discrepancy borders on caricature. Should we deduce that the base football supporter is a moron?

(Smile). What we can deduce with certainty is that the two sports were built in opposition to each other. If we go back to the interwar period, the phenomenon was the opposite. The police and the press then worried about the unrest around rugby. Football has become the great world sport affecting the entire population with the development of verbal and physical violence from the 1960s. In fact, football has developed this culture of violence because it affects everyone. And violent groups have established themselves there. Many people today love football as a game but feel uncomfortable with the context that accompanies it.

Interview Valery Lefort

It’s urgent

French football is bad. There is no question of the game, or whether « Kiki » did well to stay at PSG. The evil is elsewhere, in the stands. And it is as deep as its protagonists are down from the helmet.
This year, French football has sent back a detestable image, with serious incidents multiplying from Nice to Marseille, from Sainté to Lyon, from Lille to Lens… The litany of slippages is frightening. Some put up with it, seeing in it only “the reflection of society”.
A heresy. Because there is urgency. Urgency to ward off black sheep. Urgency to “educate” supporters. Urgency to review (or simply apply) the arsenal of sanctions. Urgency to pacify these spaces where children and families no longer have their place.

Valery Lefort

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