Wednesday, December 8

The ‘ultras’ are enchanted in French football

  • The succession of violent episodes marks the first months of the season in Ligue 1

  • Nice’s ultras have returned to the stands this weekend after two months of suspension

Fight between fans and players in Nice-Marseille, field invasion in the northern derby Lens-Lille or more recently the throwing objects against visiting players in the quintessential classic of French football, Marseille-PSG. The first months of the new season of the League 1 —Marked by landing in the competition of Lionel messi– have been splashed by a wave of incidents in stadiums.

The desired return of the spectators after the sanitary restrictions has been obfuscated by the ultras violence. Despite adopting harsh measures, the authorities are unable to solve this entrenched phenomenon. The day of this past weekend was marked by the return of the ultras of the Nice to their stadium after more than two months away due to the pitched battle during the match with OM.

“In France there had not been so many incidents of this type in such a short period,” the historian acknowledges in statements to EL PERIÓDICO. Sebastien louis, author of the book Ultras, the other protagonists of football. According to this expert on the matter, the succession in recent months of violent episodes in French football is directly related to the pandemic. Specifically, the discomfort caused by the restrictions to stop the covid-19. “The stadiums do not stop being a mirror of our societies and these psychological and social effects are noted. The public is more tense ”, assures Louis.

“Problems to guarantee security”

After practically no matches had been held with the public since March 2020, the new season has seen groups of ultras render pending accounts with their rival team namesakes. “There has been the derby effect”, Affirms the sociologist Patrick Mignon, on the fact that many of these incidents took place in matches between teams with maximum regional rivalries.

“In France there had not been so many incidents of this type in such a short period”

Sebastien Louis, historian and author of the book ‘Ultras, the other protagonists of football’

According to this expert in sports sociology, the pandemic has not only affected the behavior of fans, but also in what “The clubs were not prepared for the return of the ultras”. “Many of them have had problems to guarantee the security in the stadiums, due to the lack of staff prepared, accentuated by the need to allocate a part of the agents to check that all fans have their health passport ”, mandatory to enter any sports venue in the neighboring country, explains Louis. During the coronavirus strike, many employees in stadium security were reconverted to other professions. Related to the lack of spectators

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In addition to the pandemic, this wave of incidents is related to another of the ills of French football: the lack of spectators in stadiums. “In many clubs, the ultras were the most constant in the stands and that favored them to feel like the most legitimate fans”, Says Mignon. This trend, according to this sociologist, resulted in the directives of numerous clubs “instrumentalized the ultras and they pampered them”, While others expelled them from their fields, as happened with PSG. “The fundamental problem of French football is that it has not been able to find a policy regarding its fans,” says the author of the book. Ultras the other protagonists of football, who equates the situation of France with that of Italy, where empty stadiums coincide with violent episodes. On the other hand, in other countries like England OR Spain managed to tackle this phenomenon through a outright expulsion policy of the ultras, while in Germany they opted for the path of dialogue to maintain these animation groups, but away from their most undesirable elements.

“The philosophy must be firmness, dialogue and accompaniment,” he assured The team Thibaut Delaunay, president of the National Division for the Fight Against Hooliganism, a body linked to the Ministry of the Interior. Faced with the multiplication of incidents, the authorities have announced the creation of “a coordination cell security ”and the figures of judges specialized in sport and police experts in monitoring the ultras. Some incipient measures to solve a problem embedded in the beautiful game in France (and not only in that country), but now accentuated by the pandemic.

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