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WORLD CUP

World Cup parade: Champs-Élysées stores and cafés board up windows over vandalism fears

Shopkeepers and restaurant owners on Paris’s emblematic Champs-Élysées Avenue boarded up their businesses ahead of the French national team’s victory parade on Monday afternoon fearing a repeat of Sunday night's violence and looting.

World Cup parade: Champs-Élysées stores and cafés board up windows over vandalism fears
Photo: AFP

The Champs-Élysées prepares to host hundreds of thousands of fans again for the French national team’s victory parade on Monday afternoon. 

But some stores and restaurants were not taking any chances nor were they interested in the extra custom the crowds would bring. They decided to board up their stores and restaurants ahead of the parade over a repeat of Sunday night's looting and violence.

“The SFR shop is being cautious by installing large panels to protect its storefront.”

SFR wasn't the only store not taking any risks as others took similar measures to protect their windows fearing a repeat of the vandalism that broke out on Sunday night when rioters looted the Publicis Drugstore.

Some restaurants like the Bistrot Romain simply closed up for the day after being ransacked on Sunday night.

Some 4,000 police and security forces will be deployed across Paris once more in a bid to keep public order and prevent further disorderly behaviour.

As France awoke from a night of delirious celebrations throughout the streets of every town and city across l’Héxagone, no area was perhaps worse by hit by vandalism than the epicentre of the party itself: the Champs-Élysées.

Scenes of joy turned to violence on the famous 8th arrondissement avenue as dozens of youths looted a Publicis Drugstore and clashed with police.

They were spotted wearing ski masks as they broke in; they then left with bottles of wine and champagne, some smiling and filming themselves with cellphones. 

Other vandals threw objects at police forces who responded with tear gas.

Despite the wild but mostly peaceful celebrations by hundreds of thousands of fans who flooded into the Champs-Élysées Avenue on Saturday night, the World Cup aftermath has left shattered shop windows, a burned down kiosk, rubbish containers knocked over and many torched vehicles. 

This tweet by journalist Caroline Pique reads: “Cleaning services arrive at Avenue Marceau. “In 1998, it wasn’t this dirty,” recalls an agent who’s worked for Paris City Hall for 37 years. “The more time passes, the more the serious the damage is”.

The latest police reports suggest 102 people were arrested in central Paris, 90 of whom have been placed in police custody.

Shopkeepers and cleaning services were seen clearing the streets and storefronts of all the damage and rubbish left behind after Sunday night’s wild celebrations following France’s 4-2 win over Croatia in the World Cup final.

French police even had to disperse a crowd in front of the Champs-Élysées’s Nike shop on Monday morning as fans demanded the new French football jersey with two stars on it, one for each World Cup they have won. The store was closed and will remain so for the whole of Monday.


 

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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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