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PSG and the French league must be more proactive in dealing with hooliganism

Matthew Riding

30 people injured and leadi 300x225 PSG and the French league must be more proactive in dealing with hooliganismParis should be a city in ecstacy and bursting with pride after PSG claimed their first Ligue 1 title since 1994 courtesy of a 1-0 win away to Lyon at the weekend. However, as fans prepared to pay homage to Carlo Ancelotti’s men in a champion’s parade through the city, Paris rioted, leading to the cancellation of the celebration.

French league President Frederic Thiriez spoke of his anger and sadness, stating: “Paris didn’t deserve this.

“The party was ruined and could have had dramatic consequences because of a bunch of thugs… who have nothing to do with football but take advantage of it to take part in criminal activities.”

In reality, although PSG ultra fans have stated they had nothing to do with the violence, Thiriez and the French league have to be more proactive in combating hooliganism. This isn’t the first time rioting has ensued outside the Parc des Princes, or for that matter, in French football.

In February 2010, a PSG supporter was killed in fights outside PSG’s ground and four years earlier in hooligan-related skirmishes, another fan lost his life after a Uefa Cup match.

The French league needs to dedicate more time to eradicate the type of violence witnessed at the weekend, especially with PSG’s growing profile.

PSG’s Ligue 1 triumph has amplified their voice and status as a club, and every game they win or lose, every player they sign and every time their name is mentioned, PSG and France will be judged.

The violence outside the Parc des Princes at the weekend will have tarnished the club’s image, even if the individuals responsible for the melees and 21 arrests aren’t fans of PSG.

In truth, since PSG’s exit to Barcelona in the Uefa Champions League quarter-final in April, PSG have been surrounded by nothing but controversy. In the five league games since their defeat to Barcelona, PSG have had four players sent off, including three in one match against Evian, where goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu was given a red card for his part in a scuffle after the final whistle.

Although this season has been a fantastic one for PSG in terms of achievements on the pitch, the tempestuous climax to the campaign may leave damaging scars on their image as a club as they look to establish themselves as a major European force.

While the club battles against hooliganism, they face a huge task of keeping hold of their manager, Ancelotti. The experienced Italian has been linked with a move away from the Parc des Princes, with Real Madrid his most likely destination.

Losing Ancelotti at this stage would be disastrous for PSG. The 53-year-old who has won league titles in Italy, England and now France, has been the crucial cog in gelling and moulding PSG’s superstars into a united team. He has worked with the world’s best players and knows how to manage the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who has stated recently he would be happy to stay at PSG for another season.

If Ancelotti does leave PSG, there would be a huge hole to fill, and with the recently promoted super rich Monaco to contend with, next season will be a real challenge for the Parisian giants.

This is a big summer for PSG and for French football.

There is no doubt that the growing profile of French football is a good thing and beneficial, but there are issues that need addressing, most notably, hooliganism, which is much more rife in France than Europe’s other major leagues, such as the English Premier League and Spain’s La Liga.

This is French football’s big chance to sell itself to the rest of Europe.

The riots that marred PSG’s Ligue 1 triumph were somewhat symbolic of PSG’s season – successful, but sometimes controversial.

The latter must be dealt with in order for PSG and French football to progress.

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