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Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-05-14

Football in the French capital is "ill", Interior Minister Manuel Valls said Tuesday, after celebrations to mark Paris Saint-Germain’s first league title in 19 years erupted in violence on Monday.

The violent clashes that brought Paris Saint-Germain’s league title celebrations to a premature close on Monday evening show that football in the capital is “ill”, Interior Minister Manuel Valls told French lawmakers on Tuesday.

Monday’s celebrations, meant to mark Paris Saint-Germain’s first French league title in 19 years, were cut short after violent scenes in which 32 people suffered injuries and for which 39 people were arrested. The violence also caused damage that is likely to cost hundreds of thousands of euros to repair, and French media reported that a number of tourists were targeted during the unrest.

“Football, in particular in Paris, is ill and we should draw the conclusions,” Valls said in the national assembly. Opposition politicians have criticized Valls, along with the Paris police chief, for allowing the celebrations to take place in one of the capital’s tourist hotspots, Trocadéro.

Following the clashes, which have dealt a serious blow to PSG’s bid to restore its image following years of fan violence, Paris Police Commissioner Bernard Boucault said that PSG would never again be allowed to hold a public celebration in the French capital.

A total of 800 officers were deployed to contain the supporters, Boucault said, but it took them several hours to bring the situation under control.

“The conclusion you can draw is that there won’t be more any more events like this in a public place for Paris Saint-Germain,” Boucault said.

On Monday evening, PSG said, “the party was spoiled by a few hundred troublemakers who have nothing to do with football and even less with those that fill the Parc des Princes on match days with such passion and enthusiasm and in total security.”

On Tuesday, PSG released a statement condemning the violence and invited fans to celebrate the club’s league title success by coming to watch its match with Brest on Saturday at its home stadium, the Parc des Princes.

Smoke bombs and stones thrown

Tens of thousands of fans had gathered at the Place du Trocadero by the Eiffel Tower in Paris on Monday evening to see PSG’s players and coach Carlo Ancelotti parade the Ligue 1 championship trophy, secured with a 1-0 win at Lyon on Sunday night.

Dressed smartly in dark suits, the players drew loud cheers from the fans. Some in the crowd stood on rooftops, lit flares and climbed scaffolding.

But there was not even time for a speech from Ancelotti or captain Thiago Silva, who held the trophy aloft with defensive partner Mamadou Sakho. After only a few minutes, the players were led away by security officials.

Riot police moved in and fired tear gas after smoke bombs and various objects were thrown, and the fans surged towards the players' podium, officials said.

"There were numerous smoke bombs and objects thrown at the players' podium, and a strong surge by the crowd when the players got onto the podium,” a police source told the AFP news agency.

"Police officers reinforced security around the podium which resulted in objects being thrown at the security forces."
Interior Minister blamed

France’s main opposition UMP party laid the blame for the violent clashes at Interior Minister Manuel Valls' door, accusing him of "amateurism" over the security operation put in place for Monday’s celebrations.

Claude Goasguen, the UMP mayor of Paris’s 16th arrondissement, where the clashes took place, even called for Valls to resign over the incident.

“The safety of people, fans, players and journalists was not assured,” he said in a statement. “The Interior Minister must assume full responsibility.”

Live images broadcast from the Trocadero showed an “unacceptable” level of confusion in the efforts to contain the violence, Geoffroy Didier, deputy secretary general of the UMP, said in a separate statement.

"Where was the chief of police? What orders were given or not given? Where was the Interior Minister?” he said.

It is not the first time police authorities have been caught out this season. Prior to PSG’s Champions League home match against Dinamo Zagreb in November, about 100 hooligans from PSG and Dinamo clashed in the Bastille area of Paris the night before the game - despite there already being a decree in place banning the opposition fans from attending the game.

On Tuesday, France’s foreign minister lamented the bad publicity Monday’s clashes created for France.

"This gives a terrible image of France," Laurent Fabius said on RTL radio.

"Basically I am furious and disgusted like many people. We must be very firm, very hard with these hooligans."

But Fabius brushed aside calls for Valls to resign, praising him as a “good interior minister.”

(FRANCE 24 with wires)

Date created : 2013-05-14

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