David Beckham’s big night is ruined as PSG Ligue 1 trophy celebrations descend into chaos and rioting
30 people were injured and 21 arrested
Tuesday 14 May 2013
The celebrations to honour Paris Saint-Germain's first French league title in 19 years were cut short last night following violent scenes in which fans fought with riot police, leaving 30 people injured and leading to 21 arrests.
Paris police commissioner Bernard Boucault said three police officers were among the injured from the clashes, which have dealt a serious blow to the club's bid to restore its image following years of fan violence.
Click here to see more images from the parade
"Today should have been a day of celebration for the city of Paris," PSG said in a statement. "The party was spoiled by a few hundred troublemakers who have nothing to do with football."
A total of 800 officers were deployed to contain the supporters, Boucault said, but they took several hours to bring a situation under control that included the smashing of store and car windows near the Champs Elysees.
"The conclusion you can draw is that there won't be more anymore events like this in a public place for Paris Saint-Germain," Boucault said.
French Sports Minister Valerie Fourneyron said "PSG fans and players are the first victims of a minority" of troublemakers.
The Interior Ministry condemned a minority of fans from "the Ultras movement" and a "group of young hooligans" who they say provoked the incidents.
However, this is not the first time police authorities have been caught out this season. Prior to PSG's Champions League home match against Dinamo Zagreb in November, about 100 hooligans from PSG and Dinamo clashed in the highly populated Bastille area the night before the game — even though there was already a decree in place banning the opposition fans from attending the game. That led to 28 arrests.
The website of sports daily L'Equipe mirrored the despondent mood Monday, with a headline reading "Quand La Fete Tourne Au Fiasco" (When The Celebration Turns to Fiasco).
Tens of thousands of fans waited patiently for the players, who arrived more than an hour late at Trocadero plaza. Dressed smartly in dark suits, the players — David Beckham among them — drew loud cheers from the fans. Some in the crowd stood on rooftops, lit flares and climbed scaffolding.
But there was not even time for a speech from coach Carlo Ancelotti or captain Thiago Silva, who held the trophy aloft with defensive partner Mamadou Sakho. After only a few minutes, the players were led away by security officials.
"All the members of the club, the players and the directors, express to all of these loyal and passionate fans their heartfelt regret that today's title presentation ceremony had to be cut short," PSG said.
Small groups of riot police started to move forward, with the mood turning more menacing. Fans threw stones and other objects at the police, who replied by firing tear gas canisters.
"There were fireworks, flares and a bit of (tear) gas flying about," PSG defender Zoumana Camara said. "But you can understand that a bit because they (the fans) have been waiting for so long."
This was PSG's third league title and first since 1994. The violence comes three years after a PSG fan was killed in fighting outside Parc des Princes stadium — the second hooligan-related death at the club since 2006.
PSG had serious problems with hooliganism from 1985 to 2010. The club then took measures to combat the problem and radically changed its ticketing policy.
Former PSG player Ali Bernabia, who played for PSG from 1999-2001, questioned the location of the ceremony, saying it was an open invitation for fans to converge and making it difficult for police to control crowds.
"You can't expect everything to suddenly change and to host a trophy presentation at the Trocadero," Bernabia said on BFM television.
PSG also chose the Trocadero to present the signing of Zlatan Ibrahimovic last August, an event that brought some fighting among fans that day.
Sporting director Leonardo did not attend the ceremony after being hospitalised overnight, reportedly for a stress-related ailment. He was released Monday afternoon.
Leonardo argued with Ibrahimovic after Sunday's match, with television images showing the club's top scorer shouting at the sporting director in the changing room after the game.
The 1-0 win at Lyon on Sunday night clinched the championship for PSG with two rounds remaining.
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