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Ligue 1: faced with serial excesses, how to appease the stands?

The match between Saint-Etienne and Monaco interrupted due to jets of smoke from Saint-Etienne, on April 23, 2022 at Geoffroy-Guichard. (©AFP/Archives/Jean-Philippe KSIAZEK)

Enamelled with numerous incidents in the stands, the 2021-2022 Ligue 1 season ended in a climate of anger in several clubs.

If the causes of the phenomenon are multiple, the disciplinary responses remain decried by the supporters and the effectiveness of the security measures questions.

Why so many incidents?

Match stopped at Nancy and at Red Star, smoke bombs at Saint-Etienne, anger at Lyon and spite at Paris SG… After the excesses of autumn, spring is again agitated in the stadiums.

“It is difficult to have a general analysis, because all these phenomena are different and do not call for the same answers”, deciphers Nicolas Hourcade, sociologist specializing in supporterism.

Pyrotechnics and fights between ultra groups “already existed”, notes the sociologist but they “reappear with greater acuity due to the long interruption due to the health crisis”.

As for protest against clubs, it is a typical phenomenon of supporters posing as the guarantors of their club’s identity, in the face of shareholders or managers whose policies they criticize.

Nicolas Hourcadesociologist specializing in supporterism.

Another explanation is the sometimes broken dialogue between groups of supporters and certain clubs, a “disconnection” denounced by Kilian Valentin, spokesperson for the National Association of Supporters (ANS).

“The de facto rupture of dialogue that occurred during the Covid continued when it resumed. The groups came up against leaders who had forgotten them”, he regrets to theAFP.

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OM supporters return to the outdoor parking lot after an incursion into the field, during a match in Angers on September 22, 2021.
OM supporters return to the outdoor parking lot after an incursion into the field, during a match in Angers on September 22, 2021. (©AFP/Archives/JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER)

The gap has also widened with the National Directorate for the Fight against Hooliganism (DNLH), underlines the spokesperson, also pointing to the dormancy since December of the National Support Authority (INS), a round table bringing together all the stakeholders.

What impact of government measures?

The excesses of the fall gave birth to a tightening of ministerial screws in December, with a clarification of the decision-making process for the interruption of matches in particular, and a reminder addressed to the prefects and prosecutors on the repressive tools available.

On the procedural side, the crisis unit convened in emergency during overflows “worked very well” last weekend in Nancy (match definitively interrupted) and in Saint-Etienne (resumption of the match), welcomes a source close to the Professional Football League (LFP).

As for individual stadium bans, which had, for many, expired during the health crisis, they have resumed, but “it takes time”, concedes another source familiar with the matter. The troublemakers of the excesses of Angers-OM on September 22 thus remain to be identified on the Marseille side.

But several security responses irritate supporters. At least 116 ministerial or prefectural orders banning travel have been identified by the ANS in all championships this season. “We would like the DNLH to return to the field and do its substantive work with the prefects”, plague Kilian Valentin.

Another sticking point, collective sanctions taken by the Disciplinary Committee of the LFP, which multiplies the closures of stands.

“There were drum rolls in December, but I have the impression that we are going back to old recipes when the mobilization should have made it possible to have a strong response to violent individuals”, estimates sociologist Nicolas Hourcade.

Since confinement, France has made massive use of grandstand closures and travel bans, which we do not observe in neighboring countries.

Nicolas HourcadeSociologist specialized in supporterism

How to find serenity?

Several regulatory changes are expected in the off-season.

The forthcoming obligation for clubs to put in place anti-intrusion and anti-projection devices (protective nets), which can be activated according to the level of risk of the match, must come into force, such as the effective ban on plastic bottles, flagship measure adopted in December.

The fixed fine for possession or use of rockets or fireworks, voted in February in the sports law, is already in force.

“Above all, it is necessary to reactivate the dialogue within the INS and with the DNLH, in the rhythm that existed before the Covid”, pleads Kilian Valentin, who also calls for “an in-depth renewal of the disciplinary committee”.

The PSG ultras celebrate their team's 10th national title outside the Parc des Princes, in protest, on April 23, 2022.
The PSG ultras celebrate their team’s 10th national title outside the Parc des Princes, in protest, on April 23, 2022. (©AFP/JULIEN DE ROSA)

Within the clubs, security audits will strengthen certain specific positions. And the LFP does not exclude integrating these security criteria in the direction of the financial windfall of the new shareholder CVC, expected in the off-season.

“The clubs that have the most glaring problems will have to invest more directly in these issues,” says a source close to the body.

Source: © 2022 AFP

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