Blame game follows PSG fans’ rampage in Paris

Blame game follows PSG fans' rampage in Paris
A Paris police officer oversees the clean-up of a destroyed shopfront on Avenue Kleber, near Trocadero, Paris in the aftermath of rioting by PSG supporters on May 13th. Photo: Le Parisien
Locals, politicians and the management of Paris Saint-Germain have begun pointing fingers after a group of the club’s supporters went on the rampage in the French capital, burning and looting property during a celebration of PSG’s first French league title in 19 years.

Residents and business-owners in the vicinity of Trocadero, close to the Eiffel Tower, were left with a massive clean-up on Tuesday morning, after a group of PSG supporters went on the rampage during a celebration – organized by the club – of the Paris side’s first French title in a generation.

PSG’s management have condemned a small, unrepresentative group of fans, while locals criticized police for their handling of the riot, and opposition politicians called for the resignation of France’s interior minister.

“Today should have been a day of celebration for the city of Paris, for the club, our supporters and partners,” PSG said in a statement on Tuesday.

“The party was spoiled by a few hundred troublemakers who have nothing to do with football and even less with those that fill the Parc des Princes on match days with such passion and enthusiasm and in total security,” the statement continued.

Despite distancing the club from the hard core of “ultras” who appear to have been behind Monday night’s chaos, however, PSG has been banned from holding any more public celebrations.

“The conclusion you can draw is that there won’t be any more events like this in a public place for Paris Saint-Germain,” Paris police commissioner Bernard Boucault announced on Monday.

One woman at the scene of the destruction expressed her disbelief to French daily Le Parisien. “What’s happening? This is shocking. Where am I? What century am I in?”

“The police left! There was a lot of violence, and the police left. Then these youths came, they had projectiles, and they started setting fire to things,” she added.

Another was in no doubt as to the performance of the CRS riot police on Monday evening. “The police presence here was clearly ineffective,” she told Le Parisien.

For at least one opposition politician, the blame lies with Interior Minister Manuel Valls.

Paris deputy for the centre-right UMP, Claude Goasguen accused Valls of “amateurism” and “inertia” and called for his resignation on Monday night.

“The safety of people, supporters, players and journalists was not assured,” he told French TV TF1. Directing his ire at Valls and Boucault, Goasguen claimed their preparation for Monday evening’s event had been severely lacking.

“It wasn’t complicated to see by the afternoon that there were gangs arriving to riot,” said Goasguen, who is also deputy mayor of the 16th arrondissement.

Valls himself laid the blame elsewhere.

"On this evidence football is still sick," he said. "This is the case for PSG".

The minister said he would be meeting with PSG chiefs in the coming days to review the violence.

Paris police made 21 arrests for destruction of property and looting amid Sunday night’s celebrations, in the immediate aftermath of PSG’s decisive, title-clinching victory over Lyon.

Riot police square off against PSG supporters in Paris on May 13th. Photo: Samson/AFP

Comparisons were also made in the French media and on Twitter between the way fans of Manchester United and Barcelona celebrated their own league title triumphs to how fans in Paris behaved.

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