The streets of Paris were transformed into a battlefield on Monday after a fight broke out between French football fans and riot police, ruining the victory celebrations to honor Paris Saint-Germain’s (PSG) first French football title in 19 years.
At least 30 people, including three police officers, were injured during Monday’s fight and 21 arrests have been made. Overall, it took 800 policemen several hours to bring the situation under control.
The fight began minutes after a double-decker bus parading the smartly dressed PSG players, including David Beckham, arrived at the Arc de Triomphe Square where thousands of anxious fans had gathered.
Whilst some in the crowd stood on rooftops, lit flares and climbed scaffolding to celebrate the Paris Saint-Germain victory, the scene drastically changed when a large group started throwing stones and flares and began looting shops and burning cars. The CRS police then responded with tear gas.
Following the breakout of the fight the players were safely led away by security officials and the victory parade was cut short. The entire event was cancelled, including speeches from the coach Carlo Ancelotti and captain Thiago Silva and the planned cruise down the river Seine.
Monday’s scene is not the first time that fans of the club have been seen as guilty of hooliganism. Indeed, last August there was fighting at the PSG’s organised event at Trocadero that marked the signing of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, whilst three years ago a PSG fan was killed in a fight outside the Parc des Princes stadium. Following his death the club had radically changed its ticketing policy and temporarily banned supporters groups from the stadium.
Paris police commissioner, Bernard Boucault, has commented on the fight stating: “It is a huge embarrassment to a club that has been trying to restore its image following years of fan violence.” He added: “The conclusion one can draw is that there won’t be anymore events in public place for PSG.”
After Monday’s event the football club issued the statement: “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. All the members of the club, the players and the directors, express to all those loyal and passionate fans their heartfelt regret that today’s trophy presentation ceremony had to be cut short.”