French Secretary of State for Sport Rama Yade says the future of Paris Saint Germain football club is "at stake" after a fan dies of injuries sustained during clashes between rival supporter groups.
AFP - The future of top French football side Paris Saint Germain is "at stake" if the club fails to rein in violent hooligans, French Secretary of State for Sport Rama Yade said Thursday.
PSG's history of fan violence took a fatal twist with the death Thursday morning of a 37-year-old man, named only as Yann L., who suffered a beating by fellow PSG supporters on the fringes of a match against arch rivals Marseille on February 28.
Amid widespread calls for violence to be eradicated around PSG's notoriously troubled Parc des Princes stadium, Yade said the club is now under even more intense pressure to act.
"The very worst thing possible has happened. Passion has been transformed into sordid, senseless and murderous rage. The love of the shirt has been replaced by hatred, for each other, for sport, and for life," said Yade.
"Supporters who kill each other should be punished with the utmost severity. The very survival of the club is at stake," said Yade.
Despite their relative lack of success on the field, PSG are still one of the best supported clubs in the country -- although that reputation is tarnished by the delicate co-existence of several rival fans groups.
The deceased was reportedly a memeber of the 'Casual Firm' group of supporters who congregate at the Boulogne end of the Parc, and was reportedly attacked by members of a rival group from the Auteuil end.
Like arch rivals Marseille, PSG fan groups have close ties to club management and can even influence in the running of the club.
After Thursday's death, PSG announced they had provisionally suspended all agreements that had been signed with the various supporters associations.
Offering condolences to the fan's family, a clud statement added: "We intend to fully investigate the consequences of this incident and then take the necessary action to help eradicate violence from in an and around the Parc des Princes and during the team's away trips.
"Once again the behaviour of a band of pseudo-supporters has plunged the club, its management, its shareholder, its sponsors, its players and its real fans into a state of sadness and dismay.
"We want whoever is responsible for this criminal act to be caught, interrogated and charged."
Judicial sources later announced that four suspects who had been taken in for questioning by police had been detained. A fifth man who was questioned Wednesday was later released.
A 28-year-old man suspected of taking part in the beating was charged with attempted homicide by police on Saturday, although that charge could now be changed to homicide.
French Interior Minister, Brice Hortefeux, immediately ordered PSG to play their French Cup match, scheduled for Tuesday at Auxerre, behind closed doors.
"... I've decided to reinforce security measures surrounding PSG's next matches. If we have to play those games in empty stadiums, then so be it," Hortefeux said in a statement.
The Professional Football League (LFP) has already ordered the Nice v PSG and PSG v Boulogne league encounters on March 20 and 28 respectively to be played behind closed doors.
Date created : 2010-03-18