Football celebrations turn to racist riot

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When Paris Saint-Germain won its first European football title last Wednesday evening, the celebrations were loud and long and everyone wanted to be in on the act. But within 24 hours, the euphoria had degenerated into a large-scale race riot, details of which are only just emerging.

On the night of the victory, there was singing and dancing on the Champs Elysees into the early hours. The next day, Thursday, saw one long party: a town hall reception, an audience with President Chirac.

It was after this that things started to go wrong.

Soon after the team paraded on to the pitch, a little after 8pm, as many as 400 fans, "mostly of a far-right complexion" invaded the pitch. Some tried to grab the players, several of whom are black. At this, three or four thousand mainly black supporters also invaded the pitch. There were fights; the goal posts were smashed; some fans had sticks that they used as spears; smoke bombs were let off, racist insults were hurled.

Team officials managed, with extreme difficulty, to extract the players from the melee. The riot police called in. Quietly, officials concede that PSG has had a problem with racism all season but they had hoped that victory would ease the tensions.