• France's news in English
Pétanque world cup marred by death threats
The Marseillaise World Petanque Championships have been marred by death threats this year. Photo: La Marseillaise

Pétanque world cup marred by death threats

Joshua Melvin · 8 Jul 2014, 11:46

Published: 08 Jul 2014 11:46 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Say the word ‘pétanque’ and it might elicit a chuckle or kind smile from many French people who love the game but also recognize its association with pensioners sipping Pastis on a warm July day.

However, things got pretty serious last week at this year's "Marseillaise World Petanque Championships", which brings together some 13,000 players of the bowling-type game, the English call "boules" that is similar to Bocce ball.

In fact a team from the town of Marchiennes in northern France packed up their boules and went home after an opponent allegedly threatened to kill them at the tournament that draws 150,000 spectators and teams from 20 different countries.

SEE ALSO: Ten things you really to know about Pétanque

According to a report by France Television, the trio from Marchiennes were ahead 11-6 (the first to hit 13 wins) last Thursday prompting one of their adversaries, a member of a team from the southern city of Vitrolles, to allegedly strut over and deliver a clear warning.

“Even if you guys get to 13, you’re going to lose...I’m going to report that we won. And if you say anything you’re dead,” the opponent allegedly said according to reports on France TV. “If you guys say anything I’ll tear off your heads.”

Here's a video of one of the players recounting the threats (French-only video):

According to France TV, the stunned Marchiennes players then watched as their opponent strolled over to the judges’ table and reported his victory. Taking the unsolicited advice of their threatening rival, the northern players kept their mouths shut.

The run-in left the team rattled enough they hopped on the next train out of town. One of the three northerners Anthony Laruelle told France TV: “They said were dead if we repeated any of what happened.”

Incredibly, death threats aren’t that uncommon for the seemingly sedate game.

“It’s something that happens often in pétanque,” Patricia Jeanjean, president of the pétanque committee in Marseilles told France TV.

The northern players did get some cold comfort from fate of the team that “beat” them. The trio from Vitrolles lost in the next round of play.  

The final of this championship will take place on Thursday.

Story continues below…

Tournament organizers have not responded to The Local's request seeking comment on the alleged threats. 

SEE ALSO: Ten great French institutions that are under threat

Joshua Melvin (joshua.melvin@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
How France plans to help its stressed-out police force
Yellow smoke rises around French police officers in Paris holding a banner reading "Solidarity with our colleagues, police angry". All photos: AFP

Could these measures stop the cops from protesting?

'3,000 migrants dispersed' after 'Jungle' clearance
Photo: AFP

While thousands of migrants have been bussed out around France, new ones are arriving all the time and thousands of others have simply been dispersed aid agencies say.

Fifteen of the most bizarre laws in France
Photo: Matthew Powell/Flickr

A must read for anyone who wants to stay on the right side of the law in France.

Medieval town in south of France upholds ban on UFOs
The town of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Photo: Aa77zz/Flickr

Aliens take note.

American tourist dies at French Riviera sex club
The Riviera resort of Cannes. Photo: AFP

American tourist reportedly fell five floors after being pushed outside the underground sex club in Cannes.

Paris: 'Flying' water taxis to be tested on River Seine
Photo: SeaBubbles

An in Seine idea surely? But tests will go ahead.

France joins fight for rich pickings from post-Brexit UK
Photo: AFP/DcnH/Flickr

France tries to woo EU's bank regulator and other agencies.

How speaking French can really mess up your English
Photo: CollegeDegree360/Flickr

So you've mastered French, but now it's time to learn English all over again.

French claims that Jungle camp is empty are rubbished
Photo: AFP

Reports from the scene say scores of migrants are still in the area of the Jungle despite French authorities claiming "mission fulfilled."

Kidnapped Riviera millionaire left tied up in car boot in Nice
Photo: AFP

Head of luxury Cannes hotel has been found alive after being kidnapped in Nice on Monday.

The annoying questions only a half French, half Brit can answer
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Forget Brangelina's chateau - here are nine others you've got to see
The must-see French films of the millennium - Part One
How life for expats in France has changed over the years
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
jobs available