a “radicalization problem” of supporters?

Julien Pearce, edited by Colin Abgrall
, modified at

4:46 p.m., October 27, 2021


What happened to the Ligue 1 stands, silent in 2020-2021 and unleashed in many places this season? Since August 8 and the resumption of the championship, no less than six violent episodes, in the stadiums or outside, have occurred on the fields of the elite. In Montpellier (twice), Nice, Lens, Angers and the most recent in Saint-Étienne last Friday. A disastrous start to the season for the image of French football, as Nice-Marseille replay on Wednesday evening. According to Nicolas Hourcade, specialist in the movement of supporters and guest of Europe 1, Wednesday, this could, among other things, come from a “radicalization of supporters”.

Economic and structural assumptions

The first hypothesis is the most reassuring. Indeed, it is explained by a renewed excitement of the supporters after a year in camera. “This gives both the best with very fervent atmospheres, but also the worst with very frequent incidents. If it is cyclical, we can hope that these excesses will calm down soon,” explains Nicolas Hourcade.

The second is more worrying. The structural hypothesis, therefore more durable, would be linked to the radicalization of part of the stadium audience. It could be explained both by the rivalries between the groups of supporters and by an anxiety-provoking and tense climate within society, “according to the sociologist.” The stadium has always been a bit of an outlet, but one has the impression that it is even more so than before “, which would explain the variety of overflows (invasion of the ground, throwing of projectiles, fights between supporters).

The organization of the matches in question?

These excesses, although more frequent in France, are also found in Europe and in particular in England, a country “often presented as a country spared by violence”, notes Hourcade. The upsurge in excesses in Europe can, apart from tensions between supporters, be explained by less experience in the organization of matches. “We recently noticed that this is not always suitable. The stewards are notably less experienced than before the health crisis. Many have retrained in other professions,” he notes. Stewards not paid enough, but above all poorly trained, according to the sociologist.

National stake and individual sanctions

Who should take into account the remuneration of stewards and their training? “It’s a national issue,” says Nicolas Hourcade. “It is also possible that certain clubs, in financial difficulties because of the health crisis, put a little less money in the security pole. But fundamentally, there needs to be a national push. “

Then comes the problem of sanctions. For the moment, it is the clubs and the supporters as a whole who are in the sights of the LFP and its disciplinary committee. Withdrawal of points in the championship, closing of the stands… The repressive arsenal is varied. But this commission can only sanction clubs. Nicolas Hourcade insists on the fact that “no country has fought durably against hooliganism by sanctioning only clubs”.

The main objective would therefore be to be able to identify violent supporters, to sanction them and to remove them from the speakers. “Legislative means exist to sanction troublemakers and we have all the technical means to identify them,” he says. But the other problem that must be avoided is that of cost. Indeed, to identify and sanction 100 individuals, it requires time and a certain cost for the police. Note, however, that certain stadium bans may be pronounced by the prefects or even the clubs, with their advantages and disadvantages. If the violence were to continue, Nicolas Hourcade advocates “a real political will at the highest level of the State” to respond to these excesses. And rediscover the joy of festive stands.