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The LFP’s plan to end violence in stadiums

RMC SPORT INFO – Scenes to forget. After the ultra-violent season in the stands of the French championship, Ligue 1 is restarting with the hope of a lull. Last season was tumultuous, between throwing projectiles or invading the field, the LFP had released its panel of disciplinary sanctions to stem the situation. Without success. RMC Sport reveals the League’s plan to try to end the violence in French stadiums.

“We must get the criminals out of the stadiums”, the sentence of Vincent Labrune, president of the LFP, at the end of June during the General Assembly of the French Federation (FFF) marked the spirits. The will of the League is displayed: to regain control over the security of the championship. On the side of the clubs, we also want a reduction in tensions with the supporters. At the beginning of June, the LFP had already started a questioning with the appointment of criminologist Alain Bauer, responsible for a report on the excesses of supporters who punctuated the Ligue 1 season. The conclusions are expected in September. Prior to the publication of this document, the clubs and the League tried to take the lead.

A protocol for risky matches

According to our information, the LFP has implemented what had been decided at the interministerial meeting on violence in stadiums in December 2021. This meeting with the three ministries (Interior, Sports and Justice) had led to several reforms and lines of thought for the future. For example, the clubs had to have anti-projection (safety nets) and anti-intrusion (grids, Plexiglas, barriers, pits) security devices that could be removed and activated on the recommendation of the prefect or the National Division for the Fight against Hooliganism. (DNLH).

In fact, for this new season, the security protocol is reinforced. The body asks clubs to add to their security measures already in place, in particular for matches considered to be at risk. The League also asked the 40 members of Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 to add anti-intrusion barriers and protective nets for these meetings. The League left the choice to the clubs: a cage, a modular net, more stewards, accordion barrier system or with “Wembley system” ropes, plexiglass protection on the corners.

In the specifications, nothing is mandatory for each league match. For example, a Ligue 1 club is not obliged to install a net permanently. On the other hand, the devices must be mobilized at the minute if necessary. Or if the match is classified at risk, the prefects can ask to activate the device and the club must therefore be ready.

Referent police officers and the end of the bottles

Clubs also need to make up for years of underinvestment in security. At the start of the year, no Ligue 2 club, for example, had protective nets. For the past few days, nets have therefore been installed in the stands, in most cases in the visitor sectors of the championship. “We must not believe, but the clubs invest a lot in the security of the stadiums, without even the order of the LFP”, confides a president of Ligue 1. The image of the “cage” set up at the promoted Ajaccien impressed football fans on social media. The LFP has also included in its regulations the ban on plastic bottles in stadiums. These could be used as projectiles, like last season. The millions of euros injected by the CVC investment fund into the French championship should also allow clubs to invest in these infrastructures.

According to our information, several other new features will also see the light of day. At the beginning of July, during the LFP seminar with the security managers of the Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 teams in Toulouse, the clubs reviewed all the possible scenarios with crisis meeting simulations (projectile throwing, land invasion…). Since the end of June, around ten clubs in the championship must now deal with a referent police officer (as in Paris or Saint-Etienne), an idea launched in 2019 in several French clubs. He is an official in contact with the stakeholders of a match, in charge of dialogue. It should also make it possible to reduce tensions and facilitate decision-making. Finally, a track, which requires political intervention, is being studied by the LFP. The creation of specialized stewards. These private security personnel, specially trained to intervene in the stadiums of the championship, could have accreditation from the League. The objective is simple: to have competent personnel with a perfect knowledge of the enclosure.

An unreassuring pre-season

“The scenes in Nice or Rennes during the pre-season friendly matches do not allow you to have a feeling of assurance before the start of the season, confides a police officer specializing in intelligence. We will have to be attentive to the first days championship, they will surely set the tone for this new season in France”. Last season, a match was stopped on the first day between Montpellier and Marseille after a projectile was thrown at an OM player.

The last friendly matches between Ligue 1 clubs and certain foreign clubs still raise fears of the worst. In recent days, clashes have broken out between several groups of supporters. During the friendly match between OGC Nice and Torino, a dozen ultras from the Italian club were arrested on the sidelines of the meeting by the police. The latter wanted to attack OGCN supporters just in front of the Allianz Riviera. English fans of Aston Villa were assaulted by Rennes supporters just after the friendly match between the Breton club and Aston Villa. Result: two injured.

Supporters back at the center of the game?

It’s not yet a victory for the supporters, just a first step. At the start of the season, the authorities, the clubs and the LFP seem less closed to dialogue with the groups of supporters. It remains to be seen whether France will once again exceed the 150 travel bans in Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 this season. Supporter representatives want to obtain a reduction in the collective sanctions imposed by the LFP disciplinary committee.

“We had very regular exchanges with the LFP during the summer, confides Kilian Valentin, spokesperson for the National Association of Supporters. We will continue these exchanges in the coming weeks. But the League is focused on this season with the desire to make people forget the images of last season. There are still many files to be discussed, things are progressing with discussion. For the moment, we have not yet received feedback from the groups of supporters on the nets and cages installed in the stadiums, but it will be a subject to discuss.

The Bauer report being written

At the writing of these lines, the note of the DLNH has not yet been published. She often sets the tone of the season. The writing of the report requested by the LFP from Alain Bauer is still in progress. The conclusions are expected for the end of September, for the moment the interviews with the various players in the championship are in progress. For Kilian Valentin, spokesman for the ANS, the man “is not appropriate” to write this report.

According to our information, the criminologist is looking for solutions adapted to local problems. The report should provide solutions with the presence of pre-agreements between the LFP, clubs and local authorities before publication. This report should also highlight the points of agreement and the points of divergence between the different parties.

By Nicolas Pelletier, Arthur Perrot and Xavier Grimault

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