Sports

The return of the thorny issue of violence in stadiums



This is the story of a dialogue of the deaf. Charged last June by the Professional Football League (LFP) to draw up a report on violence between supporters, the criminologist and academic Alain Bauer sees his mission challenged. The man who presented the first recommendations of the report at the end of September, during a press conference, explained that he wanted “reestablish a dialogue with the supporters”. “It’s more about contracts made with the fans, on good terms,” assured the criminologist.

However, Ronan Evain, executive director of the Football Supporters Europe association, claims not to have been contacted by the specialist media. “Unless you consider that a message on LinkedIn, sent the day before the first leaks of the report, is a real contact. We noticed, and it is regrettable, that we were not in the loop. » If he says he had an invitation from the League, Pierre Barthélemy, lawyer for the National Association of Supporters, explains for his part that the latter invited the commission in charge of the investigation to turn to the Instance National Supporter.

A request remained a dead letter, according to the lawyer. “It also makes me laugh when I hear the expression ‘restore dialogue’, because dialogue has existed for years between supporters, clubs and the League”, he believes. Contacted, Alain Bauer says he is prepared, between now and the submission of his final report towards the end of October, to “to continue this dialogue, even with those who have always refused it, by ideology or by trial of intent”.

Get out of collective punishment

And for good reason, a large number of incidents last season contributed to making this subject a priority for the LFP. Example among many others: in November 2021, Dimitri Payet, Olympique de Marseille player, was hit by a bottle of water thrown from the stands by a Lyon supporter. The latter, quickly identified, had been apprehended, tried in immediate appearance and sentenced to a six-month suspended prison sentence and a five-year stadium ban.

A episode ” badly managed “ for Ronan Evain, because if the individual punishment was “adapted”, it should not, according to him, be added to a collective punishment with regard to the Lyon club. A total closed session had been pronounced against Groupama Stadium, in addition to a threat of withdrawal of points in the championship classification. “Was it necessary to punish collectively when individually it had been dealt with, quickly and effectively? », asks the association leader.

“We have to get out of collective sanction. We are against double jeopardy”, rightly replies Alain Bauer. Before qualifying: “We must keep it all the same as the ultimate argument. »

Towards a supporter’s identity card?

Among the recommendations presented prior to the publication of the report, a proposal on ticketing is talking about it: the establishment of a supporter card to access the stadiums. “This may take the form of a ticket holder certification mechanism,” already used during a concert at the Stade de France by singer Ed Sheeran, recalls Alain Bauer. An idea that makes Ronan Evain jump: “They tested it in Poland or Portugal and abandoned it within a few months. Today, it is present in countries like Turkey and Russia, it makes you wonder. »

In addition to the supposed attack on the integrity and privacy of supporters, refuted by Alain Bauer, for whom it is a classic identity document, Ronan Evain warns of an effect “devastating” for stadium attendance: “The first public to flee this kind of procedure is not the ultra supporter but the occasional supporter. Anyone who was about to go to the stadium at the last moment and take advantage of the last tickets on sale will be slowed down by such a device. » An argument here also swept away by Alain Bauer: “Today, you have applications for everything! Some will allow you to take a ticket in three minutes, it is not a nominative control that will slow down the supporter. »

The nominative note also raises doubts: “The initiation of such a device requires a massive recruitment of stewards or police officers, which seems inconceivable”, warns Ronan Evain. And to detail: “Imagine a match at the Parc des Princes, with an average of 47,000 people whose identity must be checked, in an hour and a half. It’s unimaginable. » An opinion supported by Pierre Barthélemy: “For a PSG match, you can have up to 10,000 tourists. With this process, we will not make the stadium attractive. »

A non-existent management policy

The two camps pass the buck, while advocating dialogue. Alain Bauer says he wants to fight against a “generally a priori seeing this report as something punitive”, when supporters’ associations concede that they do not have a miracle solution. For his part, Pierre Barthélemy wishes to recall the facts: “In France, every year, you have between 600 and 800 fan-related problems, when 8 to 12 million people go to the stadiums. And acts of violence represent 30% of these problems. It is not by establishing consensual reports where nothing is learned that this will make progress. Supporters’ associations continue to dialogue, but it is up to the police and the courts to act on criminal behavior. It will never be 30,000 people paying for the behavior of two or three. »

“In France, there is a lack of a real supporter management policy, slice the sociologist Nicolas Hourcade, specialist in football supporterism. You never know who is acting. Is it the Ministry of Sports, the Ministry of the Interior? The FFF, the LFP? » He recalls that there are now three different ways to pronounce a stadium ban: an administrative decision from the prefect, a decision from the court, or from the club itself by blocking its ticket office. “This example alone proves the whole hodgepodge surrounding fan management. »

For many, England, which succeeded in eradicating hooliganism in the 1990s, remains the benchmark. The country had put in place a coherent policy, creating new offenses and applying zero tolerance at the individual level, while removing certain collective constraints, in particular the fences around the field, but also by regaining control of certain stands managed independently by supporter groups. The decision was then “coming from above”, recalls Nicolas Hourcade. A necessity, according to him, to define a course and ensure effective prevention.

———-

Doubts about the novelty of the report

A national body. Officially installed on March 8, 2017, the National Support Authority is already in line with the law of May 10, 2016 strengthening dialogue with supporters and the fight against hooliganism.

A questionable choice. Alain Bauer is a French criminology professor. Former leader of Unef-ID, then adviser to Prime Minister Michel Rocard from 1988 to 1990, he was adviser to Nicolas Sarkozy and Manuel Valls on questions of security and terrorism.

Existing decisions. In December 2021, the LFP had implemented several reforms. For example, the clubs had to have anti-projection (safety nets) and anti-intrusion (grids, Plexiglas, barriers, pits) security devices that could be removed and activated on the recommendation of the prefect or the National Division for the Fight against Hooliganism (DNLH). .



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