To curb violence on the sidelines of football, the Minister of Sports calls for firmness, but an end to the moratorium on travel

Faced with the new outbreak of violence on the sidelines of football, the Minister of Sports and the Olympic Games, Amélie Oudéa-Castéra, called, Monday, December 18, for the establishment of a “firmer penal policy”

To curb violence on the sidelines of football, the Minister of Sports calls for firmness, but an end to the moratorium on travel

Faced with the new outbreak of violence on the sidelines of football, the Minister of Sports and the Olympic Games, Amélie Oudéa-Castéra, called, Monday, December 18, for the establishment of a “firmer penal policy”. Speaking following a meeting of the National Supporterism Authority (INS) in Paris, which brings together the main players linked to the issue, the minister declared that she did not want to extend the moratorium on fan travel.

Decided after the death of a Nantes supporter on December 2, “this moratorium probably did not unfold exactly in the way that everyone could have wished, but the important thing is that it produced results,” he said. noted the minister. The 31-year-old FC Nantes fan died after receiving two stab wounds during an altercation with a VTC driver, whose vehicle had been targeted by a group of Nantes supporters because it was transporting Nice fans. One incident too many for the public authorities.

Because in recent weeks, a series of events involving supporters on the sidelines of Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 football matches have spoiled the party. Like racist and homophobic chants sung in the stands, or the stone-throwing of the bus of Olympique Lyonnais (OL) players and their fans, at the end of October, in Marseille, during which Fabio Grosso, then coach of the Rhodaniens, and his assistant been injured.

To this worrying trend, the authorities have responded so far with travel bans. After the death of the Nantes supporter, the minister even said she was in favor of “a moratorium”. Untenable in the long term, this emergency measure quickly came up against the Council of State. Pointing to a “serious and manifestly disproportionate attack on fundamental freedoms”, the institution suspended several ministerial and prefectural decrees to this effect. But on Monday, Amélie Oudéa-Castéra insisted on the fact that it was necessary to send “an extremely strong signal of firmness, […] a start, an electric shock” after the death of the Nantes fan.

“Even if there is legal damage, I prefer it to human damage,” she affirmed, while declaring that she did not want to “prolong ad vitam aeternam neither this idea of ​​the moratorium nor these battles before the Council of State", which met again on Monday afternoon regarding the orders concerning Ligue 2 and Ligue 1 matches on Tuesday 19 and Wednesday 20 December.

An important issue, seven months before the Olympic Games

If the INS meeting did not result in announcements – this structure, created in 2016, does not have the skills –, it made it possible to bring together the main players in the field, both from ministries, football or supporters’ associations. Welcoming “a trend, overall, towards a reduction in violence over the last two seasons”, despite an increase in incidents since the end of October, Amélie Oudéa-Castéra highlighted “the need to have a more penal policy. firm again”, in particular “with judicial bans on stadiums which must be in greater number and probably with greater firmness”. Without giving the precise timetable for these measures, the issue takes on even more importance as in seven months, France hosts the Olympic Games and the security issue is at the heart of concerns.

In recent years, France has focused on collective sanctions, much less on individual sanctions. In July 2023, there were only 218 stadium bans in the country, compared to some 1,600 in the United Kingdom and 1,300 in Germany, two nations which have managed to contain violence since the 1990s. However, the choice to punish a group of supporters for the deplorable actions of a handful of them is perceived as unfair and is the subject of strong criticism.

Last week, again, the decision, at the instigation of the Minister of the Interior, to prohibit Seville fans from going to Lens for the last match of the group stages of the Champions League, on the eve of kick-off, sparked an outcry. In a text broadcast on do for the Olympic Games, if we cannot accommodate 300 Sevillians on our soil? » The measure was finally canceled the next day by the Council of State.

France is not the only country facing violence in football. In Greece, championship matches will take place behind closed doors until February 12 to put an end to this scourge, while in Turkey, the first division championship has been suspended, until further notice after a referee was severely beaten. Mathieu Zagrodzki, political scientist specializing in security issues and member of the INS, however, insisted to Agence France-Presse before Monday's meeting: "We must not amplify the thing in relation to what it represents from a statistical point of view, French stadiums are not cut-throat. »