« I do not remember a repetition of so many incidents in such a short period of time »

But what fly can sting some football fans at the start of the season? Since the resumption of the Ligue 1 championship, many incidents have tainted the return of the public to the stadiums after a year of closed session, total or partial, due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The latest events, clashes between supporters on the sidelines of the Angers – Marseille match and an « ambush » tended by Montpellier supporters to those of Bordeaux on Wednesday (see below), reacted Jean-Michel Blanquer, Minister of National Education, Youth and Sports: « Totally unacceptable« . He indicated that measures will be »probably taken« in conjunction with Gerald Darmanin, Minister of the Interior. The disciplinary committee of the Professional Football League (LFP) meets Thursday to look into these clashes.

On September 20, the day after the incidents of the Lens – Lille match, the Minister for Sports Roxana Maracineanu advocated the use of « individual sanctions« , rather than collective. But how to explain such a climate? Nicolas Hourcade, sociologist and specialist in football supporters, explained Thursday on franceinfo not »remember, since the 2009-2010 season, a repetition of as many incidents over such a short period of time« .

Cyclical or structural phenomenon?

Nicolas Hourcade says to himself « extremely concerned« of this repetition of events and is keen to differentiate between different phenomena. »It is not exactly the same thing to throw a projectile at a player or to fight between supporters. You have to be able to distinguish between phenomena which do not all have the same causes but, fundamentally, it is difficult to know if it is a cyclical or structural phenomenon « , asks the sociologist.

Is it due to a surplus of excitement, of frustration, after months of closed doors linked to the Covid? « In this case, the situation will calm down once life returns to its normal course.« , replies Nicolas Hourcade. But it can also be a more structural phenomenon of a radicalization of certain fringes of supporters. »It is too early to tell« , explains the sociologist.

What surprised the football fan specialist the most was the « oil stain » effect after the excesses of the Nice-Marseille meeting. « We would rather have thought that things would calm down« , he admits. »Usually when there is a big incident it calms the game down a bit.« .

No « quick fix »

In order to fight against this violence, Nicolas Hourcade recognizes that the « miracle solution« does not exist. He advocates »repression of serious behavior, accountability of clubs and supporters, strengthened organization and dialogue between all stakeholders to defuse tensions. « Like the Minister of Sports, the sociologist pleads for individual sanctions. »We must be able to target violent individuals with the help of video surveillance cameras and punish them according to the acts committed « , he continues.

The fan specialist believes that the collective sanction can be legitimate when it targets a club and there has been an organizational failure. « Moreover, OGC Nice did not contest the closed session« , he explains. But the problem with collective sanction is that it becomes the only sanction. »We punish supporters who have done nothing and who are in the majority. We risk not sanctioning those who have committed serious mistakes and missing the target« , he believes.

In addition, it raises the question of the organization of matches. « We have the impression that with the closed-door periods, we have lost the habit of organizing these somewhat hot matches », concludes Nicolas Hourcade.

A long list of incidents since the resumption of the championship

On Wednesday, dozens of Marseille supporters left the visitors’ parking lot and destroyed equipment before the stewards restored order. In Montpellier, a bus of Bordeaux supporters was targeted by people armed with iron bars, leaving 16 injured.

And the list of incidents has been long since the first day of the championship:

August 8, the derby between Montpellier and Marseille degenerates. OM player Valentin Rongier was hit in the head by a bottle, while celebrating his goal. Interruption of the match after new throws of projectiles.

August 22, the Breton derby between Rennes and Nantes turns sour. The supporters of the two teams try to fight it out. Two men will be tried in March 2022 for violence against a security guard.

Also on August 22, the Mediterranean derby between Nice and Marseille is marked by much more serious incidents. As he prepares to take his corner, Marseille’s Dimitri Payet is hit in the back by a jet from a plastic bottle, the player returns the projectile to the platform of the Nice ultras. In reaction, some of them invade the lawn. Blows are exchanged between supporters, but also between players and members of the staff. The referee is forced to call the actors back to the locker room. After an hour and a half of interruption, the meeting is definitively stopped.

Three days later, August 25, the first penalties of the Professional Football League fall. The incriminated stands at the Mosson stadium in Montpellier will be closed for three matches. For Nice-OM, the LFP initially sanctions the Côte d’Azur club for a meeting behind closed doors, as a precaution.

September 9, the disciplinary committee of the LFP inflicts on Nice a withdrawal of two points (including one suspended) as well as the total closed door of its stadium for three matches. Pablo Fernandez, an assistant to Marseille coach Jorge Sampaoli, is suspended until the end of the season for punching a Nice supporter who entered the pitch. The poster will also have to be replayed, on neutral ground, on October 27.

Despite these sanctions, many incidents occur September 18, again on the occasion of a derby, that of the North between Lens and Lille. Dozens of Lensois supporters invade the field to go to battle with Lille’s parking lot, from which several seats have been thrown. The clashes, limited by the intervention of the CRS, resulted in six minor injuries. The kick-off of the second half is delayed by around 30 minutes.

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