Jubilant Algeria fans take over Champs-Elysées

Thousands of Algeria fans took to the streets of cities across France on Thursday night to celebrate their team's historic qualification for the knock-out stages of the World Cup. While the mood remained mainly festive there were outbreaks of trouble with police making 74 arrests.

Jubilant Algeria fans take over Champs-Elysées
Algeria fans blocked the Champs-Elysées on Thursday night celebrating their historic World Cup qualification.Photo: Fred Dufour/AFP

Thousands of football fans descended onto the Champs-Elysées in Paris on Thursday night to celebrate a famous World Cup result. But it wasn't fans of France's 'Les Bleus' swarming the famous avenue but those of Algeria after their team's historic result against Russia.

The Desert Foxes as they are known came from behind to draw 1-1 with Russia, which was enough to see them qualify from their World Cup group for the first time in their history.

As soon as the final whistle went thousands of fans descended onto the Champs-Elysées in Paris, where they remained until the early hours of Friday morning.

Le Parisien newspaper reported that the famous avenue was completely blocked at 2am as cars, filled with flag waving Algerians, brought traffic to a halt. 

Fans hung out of car windows or on the back of scooters as a cacophony of beeping horns filled the night.

Champs-Elysées : scènes de liesse des… par leparisien

There was a high police presence in the area with hundreds of riot cops on duty to prevent any disorder. Reports say the mood of the crowd remained festive even if police were forced to fire tear gas into the crowd at times.

There were similar scenes in Marseille and Lyon however the celebrations were tarnished by outbreaks of trouble with dozens of cars being burned.

("74 Arrests after the qualification of Algeria", read the headline in the Le Monde)

Three police officers in Lyon were injured in skirmishes with fans, a minority of whom hurled missiles at officers.

"Groups took advantage of the crowds to create disorder," an officer told Le Monde newspaper.

Lyon's authorities had earleir banned a far-right youth group from holding an "anti-hooligan" march in the city.

Police in Marseille also had to charge groups of supporters that had gathered in the Old Port. 

There were also reports of shops being vandalised and cars being burned in the north of the country around the town of Roubaix.

On Friday morning police said they had made 74 arrests across the country.

It comes after trouble flared following Algeria's win over South Korea in their previous group match on Sunday.

Algeria will now play Germany in the last 16 on Monday night, hours after France take on Nigeria. Police will be out in force in town centres across the country.

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France plans to keep growing women’s game after World Cup disappointment

France faces the challenge of continuing to develop women's football after the bitter disappointment of elimination from the World Cup by the United States.

France plans to keep growing women's game after World Cup disappointment
France players after the defeat against USA. Photo: AFP

“Back to Earth” was how sports daily L'Equipe put it after the host nation lost 2-1 to the holders in a quarter-final played out before a feverish crowd in Paris.

L'Equipe talked of “the disappointment of a shattered adventure” because coach Corinne Diacre's team had dreamt of emulating the men, World Cup winners in Russia last year and also winners as hosts in 1998.

The team had been desperate to make it to Lyon, where the semi-finals and final will be played and where seven of those who featured for France on Friday play their club football for Europe's top side.

Instead, France find themselves out of a fifth straight major tournament in the quarter-finals. To rub salt into the wounds, Friday's defeat had the knock-on effect of denying them a place at next year's Olympics.

Diacre had been set the objective of reaching the final, which always looked a daunting challenge once the draw raised the likelihood of an early meeting with the USA.

Amid the dejection on Friday, Diacre stated her wish to continue, and on Saturday French Football Federation (FFF) President Noel Le Graet confirmed she would stay.

“She will be in charge until the end of her contract, if not longer,” Le Graet told AFP.

That means until Euro 2021 in England at least, and the aim in France is to keep developing the women's game to give them a chance of one day going all the way.

The FFF hope the number of registered female players will reach 200,000 next year, an increase of almost 10 percent from present figures, but far from the two million registered male players.

They have also promised to invest 15 million euros into a post-World Cup “legacy” fund.

The interest in the women's game is there, as shown by television audiences during the World Cup, with 11.8 million watching the USA game on terrestrial TV.

However, translating that to an increased following in the women's domestic league will be a bigger challenge.

France games have drawn sell-out crowds at the World Cup, but in general attendances in domestic competition are modest at best, even if almost 26,000 saw powerhouses Lyon beat closest rivals Paris Saint-Germain earlier this year.

“We cannot go from so much enthusiasm now to league matches on poor pitches with only 120 fans,” said Le Graet. “We all need to make an effort and we will.”

Matches are televised, but like elsewhere income remains light years from rights deals in the men's game — a new sponsorship contract for the 12-club top flight with chemicals company Arkema is worth one million euros per season for three years.

Average salaries are reportedly around 3,500 euros per month, although stars like Amandine Henry and Wendie Renard are believed to earn almost 10 times that at Lyon, who have won the Champions League in the last four years. Again, those sums are dwarfed by the wages often on offer to the men.

“We need to keep putting money in, keep professionalising, because other countries are doing it and maybe that's why they are ahead of us,” warned Lyon and France forward Eugenie Le Sommer.

“We have a good league but unfortunately not every team is professional.

“There are countries who are ahead of us and we must catch up. Even Spain are putting lots of money in and we need to make sure we are not left behind.”

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