British fan recovers luxury watch after Paris Champions League mayhem

A British fan robbed of his watch in the crowd chaos at the Champions League football final in Paris in May has been reunited with the timepiece after it was found by police, prosecutors said on Thursday.

British fan recovers luxury watch after Paris Champions League mayhem
Chaos at the Champions League final at Stade de France in Paris. Photo by Thomas COEX / AFP

The Breitling watch worth several thousand euros was among several items recovered from a suspected thief who was arrested during the fiasco that marred the match between Liverpool and Real Madrid.

As fans massed at the Stade de France stadium just north of Paris, organisers kept thousands out because of suspected fake tickets, creating bottlenecks at entry gates that prompted police to fire tear gas and pepper spray.

After the game, supporters were preyed on by robbers as they made their way to local transport connections, with many reporting pickpocketing, muggings and threats.

“In one operation on the night of the final, several objects that clearly had been stolen were seized. Investigators were able to identify the owner of a luxury watch,” prosecutor Eric Mathais in the Paris suburb of Bobigny said on Twitter.

“Contact was established with him and, during a visit to France, he was able to recover his watch at the Bobigny courthouse on Tuesday,” he said.

Around 240 complaints have been filed with police over the violence, which sparked concerns over the French authorities’ ability to ensure security at two major upcoming events, the Rugby World Cup next year and the 2024 Paris Olympics.

“I’m hopeful that some of the perpetrators of these aggravated robberies will be identified and judged,” Mathais said.

An enquiry by the French Senate into the mayhem concluded last month that organisers were to blame, not supporters, undermining claims by the police and Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin.

Paris police chief Didier Lallememt has since been replaced.

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France vows to tackle motorbike ‘rodeos’ after children injured

The French government has pledged a new crackdown against illicit motorbike cruising by youths in suburbs across the country, after two children were seriously injured by a rider near Paris.

France vows to tackle motorbike 'rodeos' after children injured

The rowdy late-night races and stunts known as “rodeos” have become increasingly popular in particular in low-income neighbourhoods, leading to complaints about traffic and noise from local officials and many residents.

On Friday evening, a 10-year-old girl and an 11-year-old boy were hit by a rider while playing tag outside their home in Pontoise, northwest of the capital.

French daily Le Figaro reported on Monday that the girl suffered a blow to the head and remained in serious condition in hospital, while the boy had a broken leg.

The accident came after a 19-year-old man was killed in June after being hit by a bike rider in the western city of Rennes.

“I have asked the police to step up their interventions this month,” Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin said in the southern city of Marseille.

Nonetheless the rodeos are often tolerated or defended as a gritty urban subculture that provides an outlet for disaffected youths, with an upcoming film, “Rodeo”, that appears to glorify the gatherings and  generated a strong buzz at the Cannes film festival last May.

Police have carried out 8,000 operations to break up rodeos in the past two months, leading to 1,200 arrests and the seizure of around 700 motorbikes and other vehicles including all-terrain “quads”.

In 2018, parliament passed a law increasing penalties for the riders to up to five years in prison.