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WORLD CUP

Looters, violence and road accidents tarnish French World Cup party

France erupted in joy after winning the World Cup on Sunday but scenes of joy turned to violence on the Champs Elysees in Paris where youths looted a store and clashed with police. At least two men died in accidents during the celebrations.

Looters, violence and road accidents tarnish French World Cup party
AFP

Fans poured into the streets across the country after the country's second World Cup win, many waving flags and letting off smoke bombs.

Some 4,000 police and security forces have been deployed across Paris during the World Cup festivities, and a vast security perimeter prohibiting 
vehicle access has been set up around the Champs Elysees avenue. 

Dozens of youths shattered windows at a popular store on the Champs Elysees avenue Sunday while hundreds of thousands of fans celebrated France's World Cup victory, according to an AFP journalist at the scene.

About 30 people, many wearing ski masks, broke into the Publicis Drugstore and later left with bottles of wine and champagne, some smiling and filming themselves with cellphones. 

Some also threw objects at police forces who responded with tear gas.

“That's not how you celebrate,” a tearful bystander wearing a French team jersey said.

Following the looting TV images showed youths and riot police clashing on the Champs Elysées as the presenter talked of the party being ruined.

Shortly before midnight riot police tried to evacuate the Champs Elysées which led to more clashes with youths hurling bottles and rocks at police who responded with water canon and tear gas.

Elsewhere in France, authorities said clashes erupted in the southern city of Lyon between police and about 100 youths who had climbed on top of a police vehicle at an open-air showing of the match in the city centre.

Police fired tear gas to disperse the youths who responded by throwing objects and setting rubbish bins on fire.

No arrests had been announced but clashes were continuing at around 10:30 pm (2030 GMT) on a bridge as a group of about 50 youths tried to break through police barricades to reach the city centre.

In Frouard, a town outside the eastern city of Nancy, a three-year-old boy and two six-year-old girls were seriously injured after being struck by a 
motorcycle during the celebrations.

Authorities said the motorcyclist had fled the scene.

In the southeast city of Annecy police said a 50-year-old man died after breaking his neck when he jumped into a shallow canal just when the final 
whistle blew to signal the end of the match.

And a man in his thirties died after crashing into a tree while celebrating shortly after the game in the small town of Saint-Felix in northern France.

 

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FOOTBALL

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.”

READ ALSO: France coach laments 'failure' as hosts knocked out of World Cup

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