Football: in Paris, an English wave for the Champions League final

The Parisians have already begun to see them arrive under their windows, the day before the match. Tens of thousands of Real Madrid and Liverpool FC supporters are expected in the capital to attend, on Saturday May 28 from 9 p.m., the final of the Football Champions League, opposing the Spanish club to their English adversary at Stade de France, in Saint-Denis. While the Ministry of the Interior fears overflows, “6,800 police and soldiers are mobilized”, according to the police headquarters.

Law enforcement will be engaged on two fronts. On the one hand, they will have to accompany the flow of these men and women who have come to encourage their team in the sports arena, each camp having been entitled to 20,000 places in the stands which can hold 80,000 people. On the other, the security services will supervise the crowd of supporters without tickets, mainly English. And many of them will proudly wear the red jersey of the most popular club in the country.

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According to the Ministry of the Interior, there could be 40,000 in this case, motivated by the hope of buying sesame on the black market or, above all, of spending a good evening in France following the match on a screen, a beer in hand. This massive displacement does not surprise sociologist John Williams, professor at the University of Leicester. ” I’m part oflaughs this academic, football specialist, who is also a supporter of Liverpool. If you have a ticket, I’m interested. »

“It’s a real cultural fact”

Seen from France, this type of behavior may surprise. Not England, let alone Liverpool. “It’s a real cultural fact,linked to the very long history of English football and the stability of the clubs, notes sociologist Patrick Mignon, who hosts his colleague. We move, we travel, it’s an experience. It is transmitted from generation to generation and it is not only young people. You also have fathers and sixties like John. But it’s not just for Brits. We also see this phenomenon in the Netherlands and Germany. »

Like his compatriots without tickets, John Williams will go to the “fan-zone”, a space specially designed for Liverpool supporters in the 12th arrondissement of Paris. Surrounded by a “protection perimeter”, the venues have been designed to accommodate up to 44,000 people, with entertainment and a giant screen. They will be open from the beginning of the afternoon. “It will be possible to eat and drink”, specifies the prefecture.

“UEFA does not give enough tickets to fans”

Similarly, Scottish supporters of Glasgow Rangers and German Eintracht Frankfurt had surged towards Seville during the recent Europa League final. “It’s another way of experiencing the final, notes the English sociologist. You can experience being abroad among the fans, enjoying the atmosphere before the game and celebrating the success of the club. Even being there in Paris is more exciting than watching the match at home. It is also a way of protesting against UEFA, which does not give enough tickets to fans…”

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He also fears more attempts to break into the stadium than fights in the streets. ‘Liverpool fans don’t have a reputation for being hooligans’ he recalls. Scarred by the tragedies of Heysel (39 dead in 1985) and Hillsborough (97 dead in 1989), the club has paid dearly for the violence of part of its public in the past. Since then, as in the rest of England, a mixture of repression and consultation, added to the increase in ticket prices, has restored calm. “There has been a lot of work done, with a desire to transform the image of the city and the supporters”, continues Patrick Mignon.

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Real Madrid supporters are invited to go to a more modest fan zone, which will be able to accommodate 6,000 of them, in Saint-Denis. But the area around the Champs-Élysées will be closed to fans of both teams until Sunday May 29 at 6 p.m. The sale and consumption of alcohol will also be prohibited near the Stade de France. But not inside.


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