Over 150 arrested as PSG fans riot after defeat

By: AFP      Published: 05:03 PM, 24 Aug, 2020
Over 150 arrested as PSG fans riot after defeat
Firefighters extinguish a burning car near the Champs-Elysees in Paris as PSG supporters gather after the UEFA Champions League final football at the Luz stadium in Lisbon. AFP

More than 150 people were arrested as Paris Saint-Germain fans set cars ablaze, smashed shop windows and clashed with police in the French capital after their team's Champions League final defeat to Bayern Munich, police said Monday.

The violence occurred around the Parc des Princes stadium and on the Champs-Elysees avenue during and after the match on Sunday night, police said on Twitter.

Thousands of supporters had gathered at the Parc des Princes to cheer on PSG, lighting flares and chanting as they watched the 1-0 defeat in Lisbon on a big screen.

Even as it battles a resurgence of coronavirus infection, France allows up to 5,000 people to attend big events such as sports matches, provided social distancing and other protective measures are in place.

The trouble lasted several hours, as groups of fans threw bottles and fireworks at police, who responded with tear gas and rubber bullets, an AFP reporter said.

On the Champs-Elysees, vehicles were set on fire, windows broken and shops vandalised.

Police said 151 people were arrested on charges including violence against law enforcers, theft, possession of stolen goods, damage to property and refusing orders to disperse. They include 49 minors.

Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said on Twitter that 16 police were injured, 12 shops attacked and about 15 vehicles damaged in the rampage.

In a tweet on Sunday night, he condemned the "unacceptable" violence and thanked the police who arrested "small violent groups, troublemakers."

Burned-out cars and broken glass still littered the Champs-Elysees Monday morning, where rioters had vandalised and broken into a flagship branch of French sports goods chain Decathlon.

Far-right National Rally (RN) leader Marine Le Pen, in a tweet, accused the government of failing to "prevent scenes of rioting that tarnish sport and ridicule the authority of the state."

'Get tested' 

Social distancing measures were ignored inside and outside the Parc des Princes among fans who had hoped to see their Qatar-owned team's first triumph in Europe's top club competition.

Police said 404 people were stopped for not wearing face masks, now mandatory in parts of the city as part of measures to curb the coronavirus outbreak.

Anne Souyris, deputy Paris mayor in charge of health issues, said supporters who followed the match in groups should all take coronavirus tests.

"All those who stayed together all the evening and the night need to go and do a test," she told Franceinfo radio.

"We see hundreds upon hundreds of people who are not wearing a mask and that's a real problem," she said. "I firmly urge all those who were on the Champs-Elysees to get tested," she added.

There has been growing concern in recent days over a surge in coronavirus cases in France which authorities have blamed largely on young people not observing social distancing rules.

Almost 4,900 new cases were recorded on Sunday, a new post-lockdown record.

'Party' in Marseille

Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo had called for "mature celebrations" should PSG beat Bayern, after supporters clashed with police following their 3-0 win over RB Leipzig in the semi-finals.

"I'm gutted! They wasted too many chances and unfortunately in the final that just doesn't fly," said Nicolas Mounier as he left the stadium peacefully.

"We are disappointed but we weren't dreadful," another PSG fan, Anne Vaneson, told AFP. 

"In the first half, we were on a level playing field but we paid for a dip in performance in the first 20 minutes of the second half."

In the Mediterranean city of Marseille emotions were different. Supporters of local favourites Olympique de Marseille could not hide their glee over the downfall of their Paris rivals.

"It is time to party, they have lost!" said Samir M'Kirech, watching the match at a pub in the Vieux-Port waterside area of the city where a huge cheer had gone up as Bayern scored the winning goal. 

Police urged any PSG supporters in Marseille to remain discreet and even banned supporters from wearing PSG shirts around the Vieux-Port. That decision was rapidly reversed after an outcry.

Categories : Sports, Football