Paris braces for next PSG home match

30th November 2006, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Nov 30, 2006 (AFP) - Paris is bracing itself for a possible backlash as the fall-out from last week's killing of a Paris St Germain supporter continues.

PARIS, Nov 30, 2006 (AFP) - Paris is bracing itself for a possible backlash as the fall-out from last week's killing of a Paris St Germain supporter continues.

Even politicians are getting involved as the issues of football violence and racism have dominated the newspaper column inches following the fatal shooting of a youth by off-duty policeman Antoine Granomort last Thursday.

Granomort, who is black, was protecting a Jewish fan from a mob of Parisian supporters after PSG's humiliating 4-2 home defeat to Israeli side Hapoel Tel Aviv in the UEFA Cup when he shot and killed one fan while seriously injuring another.

The Hapoel fan, who is actually a French Jew, was being attacked by a group of hardcore PSG fans known as the Boulogne Boys who chanted anti-semitist and racist slogans during the attack.

Now French Presidential candidate Nicolas Sarkozy has sent out a warning to supporters groups that they must take their own steps to tackle violence and racism among their members.

"Supporters' associations who do not break free from racist movements or violence will be dissolved," said Sarkozy.

The incident has opened up divisions in French society with some seeing Granomort as a hero and others deploring the loss of life of a football supporter and criticising heavy-handed police tactics.

Sunday will see the first match to be played at PSG's Parc des Princes stadium since the calamitous UEFA Cup encounter last Thursday, and security and tensions are already running high.

Two sections of the stadium, which usually houses the majority of the notorious far-right supporters' group the Boulogne Boys, have been closed until further notice, meaning around 2,000 of PSG's most hard-core fans will be locked out for the visit of Toulouse.

The game has also been brought forward two hours from 5pm (1600 GMT) local time to 3pm so it will finish before dusk and 1,200 police officers will be stationed around the ground.

French football league chief Jean-Pierre Hugues approves of the measures being taken.

"We have to show a change of approach," he said. "This closure affects more than 2,000 places. It's a strong statement.

"It's not a soft or symbolic gesture. It's a heavy response. But we had to demonstrate the determination of the authorities to stop these unacceptable actions."

One PSG supporter was not impressed with the move.

Cyrille Monet, a season ticket holder in the closed stands, told AFP innocent fans were being unfairly punished.

"There are some troublemakers in these sections but there aren't 2,000 of them. There's only 50-100 but we're all being punished. I only sit there because the tickets are cheaper. I'm really disappointed, the club hasn't told us anything yet."

However many within the game feel the French authorities are not doing enough to prevent hooliganism and believe a lot can be learned from France's cross-channel neighbours England.

"The public authorities need to put themselves at the level of England where thousands are banned from stadiums," said Dominique Sopo, president of the S.O.S Racism group in France in an interview with l'Equipe newspaper.

"Files are kept on dangerous people so the problems can be managed. The (French) League needs to do more than just get children to parade against racism.

"At PSG they have to stop trying to come to an agreement with agitator groups. They have to stop pandering to them."

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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