A muscular exchange between players and discontented supporters, Saturday, January 30, in Saint-Étienne; hundreds of demonstrators a few weeks ago in downtown Bordeaux; further, seats torn off in 2018 in Lyon by ultras furious against the president, Jean-Michel Aulas … If demonstrations by supporters unhappy with football club leaders are commonplace, they generally remain within the limits the conceivable in terms of public order.
This was not the case, Saturday, January 30, when 300 to 400 ultras marched in procession towards the Commanderie, the headquarters of the Olympique de Marseille. A minority (around fifty according to the police) invaded the premises of the club and degraded them. Some stole equipment and damaged cars, others threw stones at the players who were training for the evening match against Rennes, which was finally canceled.
On Sunday morning, 18 people were still in custody, while the club decided to file a complaint by denouncing a “Unacceptable attack” and “An unjustifiable outburst of violence”. “It’s astonishment for all of us, employees, staff, players. We didn’t expect to see this whole savage horde come in and destroy everything ”, declared on Canal + the president of OM, Jacques-Henri Eyraud.
Containment exacerbates frustrations
What happened to turn a hostile parade into a virtual riot? “For weeks, we have seen a fed up with supporters because of the results. This has taken on an uncontrollable dimension here because of the sporting and social context, comments François Thomazeau, journalist, writer, author ofSecret history of sport (1) and Marseille at heart. “ To judge these excesses that I disapprove of, we must take into account the crazy passion of young Marseillais, some of whom do not have many other things in life than this club. And this not a lot of other things is further reduced by the health context ” which prevents the public from attending matches.
For Nicolas Hourcade, a sociologist specializing in ultras movements, this overflow is also due to the inexperience of the executives of ultras movements. “In a normal context, they would have written banners, launched smoke bombs and insulted the management from the stands, he explains. But there, we were in the street and they do not know how to control their troops. “ He too believes that we must take into account the context to comment on these outbursts that surprised everyone. “Football is bad, there is no more money and the managerial vision of clubs, companies supposed to bring in money, is becoming unbearable for lovers of their club. “
The transplant has never caught between the president and the ultras
In this jacquerie, President Jacques-Henri Eyraud, decked out during the procession with the unflattering qualifier in Marseille of “Parisian”, looks like the head of a Turk. The results of the club are in free fall (OM are sailing around the 7e place in Ligue 1, and remains on three consecutive defeats against Monaco, Lens and Nîmes), the locker room is divided and the Portuguese coach André Villas-Boas, appreciated by the supporters, has just announced that he does not plan to stay at the club after the end of the season.
→ PORTRAIT. André Villas-Boas, the man who ignites the Olympique de Marseille
The transplant has never taken between President Eyraud, a media man parachuted into the head of the club in 2016 by its American owner Frank McCourt, and the ultra-Marseillais. “Bernard Tapie was Parisian, but he was a common man, the complete opposite of Jacques-Henri Eyraud, who is one of those white-collar workers that we don’t really like in Marseille. where the tertiary sector is very weak ”, François Thomazeau analysis.
In a particularly clumsy way, Jacques-Henri Eyraud had declared on December 8, in a management seminar, that there were too many Marseillais within the staff of the club. “In terms of productivity, the impact of a defeat on the attitudes and behaviors of employees was strong, and that is not right”, he had declared. Words that were criticized a lot and for which he apologized, Sunday, January 31, on TF1. “I love this city, but I don’t condone this violence. Yes, I may have made mistakes, but they cannot justify the surge of hatred and violence that we witnessed yesterday ”, said one who was confirmed in his post by the club owner.
The longest day for TV rights
This Monday 1er February marks an important step in the matter of broadcasting rights for Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 matches, put back on the market following the defection of Mediapro. From noon, the Professional Football League will study offers from broadcasters for the TV rights to 80% of Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 matches, via two market consultations each comprising several lots.
→ THE FACTS. Break between Mediapro and the League, French football forced to reinvent itself
If a proposal from the American online sales giant Amazon, already positioned on the broadcasting of Roland Garros, is expected on a small part of the rights, the great unknown concerns the attitude of Canal +. The encrypted channel broadcast two matches per week, not affected by the call for tenders. But she intends to see the bill for these two meetings revised downwards before positioning herself on the whole. This could sterilize the Monday 1 award procedureer February, pending the lifting of this dispute, which is the subject of an appeal filed by the channel before the commercial court.