France, ultras alarming situation: the pandemic has erased the barrier between the stands and the pitch | First page

The serious incidents that led to the suspension of Olympique Lyon-Olympique Marseille yesterday evening are unfortunately only the latest episode in a worrying sequence. Inaugurated with the start of this first, true season of returning to the stands after the pandemic and revealing a trend that arouses alarm. Since it is as if in the hottest sectors of the fans, in every stadium, the belief has spread that there is no longer a barrier between the stands and the playing field, between the spectators in the curves and the actors on the pitch. And that this happens after a year and a half of confinement and empty stadiums has something symbolic that probably deserves to be considered. Equally to be investigated would be why this is happening so frequently in France, but this is beyond our possibilities.

The first episode, also sensational, involved Marseille in an away match as yesterday. It was August 22nd and it was played in Nice, when on the score of 1-0 at 73 ‘a throw of bottles at the address of Dimitri Payet (the same one that was targeted in Lyon yesterday) near the corner flag provoked the reaction of the player, who threw one of the bottles back towards the stands. The result was an invasion of the pitch and a brawl between local fans and visiting players which led to the suspension of the match, with the subsequent refusal to return to the field by the Marseille players. The match will be replayed at the end of October and will end 1-1.

In the meantime, however, Ligue 1 has experienced other episodes of profound turbulence. On September 18, before kick-off between Lens And Lilac, a group of supporters from the local team invaded the pitch heading towards the sector occupied by the visiting supporters. The intervention of the police and stewards averted the worst, but it was necessary to postpone the start of the race by half an hour. And a few days later there were even two cases on the same day of the championship, on the occasion of Angers-Olympique Marseille (with the latter being the team most affected by accidents) e Metz-Paris Saint Germain. Then there was another case in October, when the match between Saint-Etienne And Angers it started an hour late due to the throwing smoke bombs by the home fans. And finally it came to yesterday’s episode during Lyon-Marseillewith another one throwing bottles at Payet but this time he was hit more seriously.

So the multiplication of cases makes it clear that there is a widespread alarm and suggests some effect left by the pandemic and the long void that characterized the stadiums. The return of the French fans to the stands seems to be characterized by the cancellation of the barrier between the stands and the pitch. A barrier that had already been physically removed but remained existing in behavior, thanks to the idea that that border line should not be crossed by spectators. Now, however, that symbolic barrier no longer exists. And the multiplication of cases raises fears that much more serious consequences may arise.