How did we arrive at these “guerrilla scenes” between Lyon and Paris supporters?

Images of the charred Lyon supporters’ bus, on the sidelines of the Coupe de France final between OL and Paris Saint-Germain (1-2), have been going around the world for two days. The clashes of incredible violence, which broke out around 6 p.m. Saturday at the Fresnes-lès-Montauban tollbooth (Pas-de-Calais), on the A1 motorway, “with around a hundred individuals involved”, pose numerous questions. questions. 20 minutes explains to you what we know, with the help of Nicolas Hourcade, sociologist specializing in supporterism.

A strong rivalry between OL and PSG ultras

The National Division for the Fight against Hooliganism (DNLH) had classified this OL-PSG clash as very high risk (level 5 out of 5), and we therefore understood ahead of this final why this was necessary. In addition to the relocation of such a match to Lille, the Stade de France needing renovation work before the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, the stakes of the event and the identity of the two opponents worried (rightly) the authorities. Because if we are neither facing an OM-PSG or an OL-ASSE at the level of antagonism +++, the rivalry between Lyonnais and Parisians remains strongly anchored.

“There have been fights between Parisians and Lyonnais for thirty years between rival bands of hooligans,” recalls Nicolas Hourcade. They take place further and further away from the stadiums. Saturday’s incidents were not clashes between hooligans specializing in violence, but between ultra groups, with many supporters unfamiliar with travel in the midst of these incidents. »

To this must be added a marked political context for the two main ultras groups, namely the Collectif Ultras Paris (CUP) and the Bad Gones, located in the Kop Virage Nord in Lyon. “There is no ideological opposition in the historic rivalry between Parisian and Lyon hooligans,” continues Nicolas Hourcade. But the CUP is on an anti-racist line, while there has been a minority active for a long time on the far right on the OL side. It is one element among others in the rivalry between the two clubs today. »

The turn of Lyon supporters, Saturday evening at the Pierre Mauroy stadium in Lille.-ADIL BENAYACHE/SIPA

A failing organization

Given the animosity between these two ultra groups, the priority for the authorities was to prevent them from crossing paths on the road on Saturday, before or after the final. This is why the 1,400 Lyon ultras (out of 15,200 OL supporters in total for this match in Lille) were all supposed to leave by bus at 6 a.m. But due to a “traffic accident during departure” (according to the press release published Sunday by OL), three of them (those occupied by the members of Kop Virage Nord) only left the Lyon area around 8:30 a.m., which would sadly prove decisive. If they “went to the correct meeting point for the police escort”, in Rumaucourt (Pas-de-Calais) around 5 p.m., they then visibly did not take the route initially planned in order to limit any risk of clashes.

“For reasons yet to be determined, the police escort decided to pass seven Lyon coaches among the 18 Parisian coaches gathered at the Fresnes toll booth, while for two months, all stakeholders had been working on the separation of flows” , thus regrets Olympique Lyonnais. All “under a rather light police escort, with a few motorcycles and a vehicle for seven coaches”, as pointed out Kop Virage Nord in its press release this Monday. With a passage through the Fresnes toll that was both late, unscheduled, and therefore fatal. And this while the Ministry of the Interior indicated (wrongly) on Saturday evening that the last Lyon buses were “not under escort”.

This episode is revealing of the way in which France manages the travel of supporters, points out Nicolas Hourcade. The usual operation is to close stands or prohibit the movement of all visiting supporters. It is symbolically strong, but it has two perverse effects. On the one hand, to effectively combat hooliganism, violent supporters must be identified and removed from stadiums. This is what the English or the Germans did. In France, there are very few individual stadium bans. On the other hand, it is complicated to manage flows of supporters, it requires skills and routines. As travel is often prohibited, these skills are not necessarily acquired. » »

QED, with the consequences that we know today, and which push the supporterism specialist to this observation: “The failures that we observed on Saturday in the adaptation capacities of the police show that the organizational mechanisms French are not well-established enough.

Lyon supporters, 100% victims?

As the OL press release recalls, the Lyon supporters were clearly outnumbered when the first attacks took place at the Fresnes tollbooth. “Several OL supporters were injured, in particular by armed PSG supporters”, assures the Rhone club, while a Lyon bus was therefore set on fire, due to “smoke thrown inside”, which another started to catch fire, and that two of them were “completely destroyed”. “From this moment on, we are experiencing real guerrilla scenes, with attackers, some armed with golf clubs, hammers, crowbars, iron bars and knives,” denounces the Lyon Kop Virage Nord, which explains that he then defended himself to “protect women, children and families grouped together in an adjacent field”.

In the camp opposite, the CUP assures that it was a bus from Lyon which attacked first at the toll booth, which would be daring to say the least given the balance of power on site (7 buses vs 18). “Following this first attack on the Parisians, the latter went down to defend it, which led to the cowardly rout of the Lyonnais. Subsequently, we had to defend ourselves again by putting the Lyonnais to flight again,” wrote however on Saturday evening the main ultra Parisian group.

But as explained by a Lyon supporter testifying anonymously this Monday In The Team, “some in the bus were there to fight, to fight. There were two or three guys shouting at everyone and making racist remarks. At the toll booth, they got out of the bus.”

Lyon supporters gathered on Saturday along the A1 motorway, waiting for a solution to be found in order to access the Pierre-Mauroy stadium by bus to watch the Coupe de France final.
Lyon supporters gathered on Saturday along the A1 motorway, waiting for a solution to be found in order to access the Pierre-Mauroy stadium by bus to watch the Coupe de France final.– Pierre BEAUVILLAIN / AFP

Why so few arrests?

The detailed human toll shows 30 injured supporters (in addition to eight police officers), including “14 requiring medical treatment”. “These incidents are notable because they lasted a long time, they involved many people, and we quickly had shocking images, unlike 10, 20 or 30 years ago,” summarizes Nicolas Hourcade. We are very lucky that there is mainly material damage, and little human damage. »

While all these supporters were able to get back on the road on Saturday to go to the Pierre-Mauroy stadium in Lille (some Lyonnais arrived at the start of the second half), once the brawl was interrupted by the police, we can wonder how there can be so few arrests since Saturday.

The Prefecture of the Hauts-de-France region thus reported on Saturday evening only “ten arrests, including eight criminal fixed fines and public and obvious drunkenness”. Not a single arrest therefore linked to the violence in Fresnes, and nothing else since this press release. The public prosecutor of Arras Sylvain Barbier Sainte Marie indicates this Monday that the research section of the national gendarmerie of Lille-Villeneuve d’Ascq has been seized of the investigation for “acts of aggravated destruction of the property of others by fire, damage in meetings, and violence in meetings.”

He continues: “The criminal investigation must precisely determine the exact course of events, identify the victims, and identify the people involved. It will rely in particular on the use of videos and cell phones, on information from sports clubs, as well as on the various testimonies collected. While confirming that “no author has, at this stage, been identified”. Proof here too that the 1,000 members of the police deployed in total for this final of the Coupe de France found themselves overwhelmed, at least at the level of this famous Fresnes toll.

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