between clubs and groups of supporters, relationships that are not always “ultra” simple

“We don’t prefer to communicate”, “The subject is sensitive”, “This is not the right time”, “Even if things are going well with us, we are not immune to a big bullshit”. When Ligue 1 clubs are asked about their relations with their groups of supporters, the communication services offer the full range of polite refusals.

While the working group made up of the Professional Football League (LFP), the Football Federation, the Ministries of the Interior, Sports and Justice is due in mid-December proposals to move forward on the issue of security in the stadiums, clubs are sometimes singled out for their leniency with groups involved in some of the many acts of violence that have occurred this season during matches.

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Firm with others, more understanding with his family, Jean-Michel Aulas thus defended the Lyon groups after the bottle was thrown at Dimitri Payet during Lyon-Marseille on November 21. The president of Olympique Lyonnais pleaded the act of a “Single individual which is not at all in relation to the groups of supporters ”. However, he said he was in favor of withdrawing points when the same Payet was attacked by ultras from Nice in August.

At the time, his Nice counterpart, Jean-Pierre Rivère, had placed the responsibility for the unrest on the Marseille player. With hindsight, he ended up assuming “The big part of the responsibility” of some of his ultras. Contortions which make say to a leader of French football polled by Agence France-Presse that “Some clubs are almost in the hands of their ultras, who make the law”.

Even exaggerated, or fantasized, this observation underlines the importance of these groups, quick to consider themselves as players in the game through their activity, even moral guarantees of institutions where players, managers and owners come and go. “These groups are essential because they provide the atmosphere, recalls the sociologist Nicolas Hourcade, specialist in questions of supporterism. In the current context, they also represent the history and continuity of the club. Faced with this observation, there are two options: fire them, but it is very complicated to justify except in cases of extreme violence, which we do not meet in France either, or to set a framework. “

“We operate fairly frankly with our groups”

But would discussing already be a little excuse for possible excesses? In Nancy (Ligue 2), Nabil El Yaagoubi says he practices daily dialogue with ultra Lorraine. But the “stadium manager” (“stadium manager”) ensures not to tremble when punishing. “In the past, I had a supporter banned from the stadium and that didn’t prevent us from discussing when we passed each other, he asks. We operate fairly frankly with our groups of supporters. Not seen not caught, good for them, but if they get caught, they have to take responsibility. “

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