‘Dangerous’ mascot eagle banned from stadium

French authorities have barred Nice football club's pre-match ritual of flying an eagle before each match on health and safety grounds, claiming the club mascot is a danger to the public. Nice are refusing to abide by the decision.

'Dangerous' mascot eagle banned from stadium
The "dangerous" eagle in full flight before a Nice match this season. Photo: Valery Hache/AFP

French Ligue 1 side Nice are furious at the professional league for banning their club mascot eagle from flying before matches.

The eagle was unleashed at Nice's home game against Lorient on Saturday night two days after the French Professional League (LFP) imposed the ban.

Nice started using the Royal Eagle from Africa at the start of the season when they moved into their new stadium.

"The competition committee told us Thursday that they were withdrawing permission given at the start of the season for this pre-match event, because they say the eagle is dangerous," said Nice director general Julien Fournier.

"We have decided not to conform to this decision which is questionable in every way. We will appeal," the official added.

The club vowed that the eagle will be seen at the two last home games this season.

The eagle flies around the stadium before each home game and then returns to the arm of its falconer in the middle of the pitch. It has become hugely popular and Nice fans and school children are choosing a name for the bird.

Before a recent league game against Paris St Germain however the eagle was made nervous by the capacity crowd and hid in the stadium roof. In a French Cup game against Monaco in February, the eagle perched on the crossbar.

The eagle is part of the Nice coat of arms and deputy mayor Christian Estrosi said the French league's decision had caused "incomprehension" in the city.

He called on the French league to drop the ban, insisting that the eagle was no danger as it was fed by its keeper.

Portugal's most famous club Benfica also have an eagle displayed before each game and Fournier said there had been no incident.

The eagle did Nice no good on Saturday, they lost 2-1 to Lorient.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


French electrician sues Netflix for labelling him a radical Islamist

A French man of North African origin has accused Netflix of racial discrimination for labelling him a radical Islamist in an action movie for which he was filmed without his knowledge, his lawyer said on Monday.

French electrician sues Netflix for labelling him a radical Islamist
The Netflix movie Sentinelle was set and filmed in Nice. Photo: Valery Hache/AFP

Sentinelle, set in the southern city of Nice, tells the story of an elite French soldier returning from service in Syria who embarks on a mission to find the man who raped her sister.

One scene shows the protagonist, Klara, looking through the sights of her rifle at two young friends saying goodbye to each other.

The scene was shot on the Promenade des Anglais, the seaside walk where a Tunisian radical mowed down 86 people with a truck on July 14th, 2016.

The French subtitles Netflix provided to describe the scene for the hard of hearing refer to two young “barbus” – a derogatory term for ultraconservative Muslim men that means “the bearded ones”.

One of the men, a 21-year-old electrician from Nice, filed a criminal complaint against Netflix over the description, accusing the company of “provoking discrimination and racial hatred,” his lawyer Jean-Pascal Padovani said.

“The director took the liberty of drawing a line between the North African features of the people he filmed… and religious fundamentalists,” Padovani said.

That the shot was filmed at the scene of one of the worst terror attacks in French history was even more suggestive, he added.

“It’s unacceptable as it suggests that anyone of North African origin is a potential terrorist,” Padovani said.

A spokesperson for Netflix, which was targeted by the complaint as the film’s broadcaster, declined to comment on the matter when contacted by AFP.

It has, however, removed the term “barbus” from the audio description.

Padovani said that his client had received over 80 messages from acquaintances who recognised him in the film, which was shot in 2019 and began streaming on Netflix in March.

Some expressed shock at seeing him depicted as a terrorist, he said.

The complainant is also considering suing Netflix for using his image for commercial purposes without his permission, Padovani said.

Sentinelle was directed by French film-maker Julien Leclercq.