Nice-Marseille: is the loop closed?

It all started with an OGCN-OM. A chaotic match, never finished. The beginning of a long series of incidents which had eaten away half of the championship, and finally led the public authorities to get involved, to take up the case and to impose measures. Almost seven months later, the two clubs find themselves face to face, and despite the high sporting stakes, many will especially have their eyes riveted on the stands. Will the circle finally be closed tonight?

We were in the middle of August. Since the resumption of Ligue 1, everyone has marveled at the filled stands, the rotating ticket office, the chants flowing towards the green rectangle or the tifos which covered the turns. The public, the supporters and the ultras were back. French football believed in a return to normal after a pandemic announced a little too hastily behind us. The football party has resumed its rights. Instead, it was chaos. French society will not emerge unscathed from restrictions and confinements. People at the stadium seemed to explode in flight. Reminder of the facts: exasperated and then hit by a bottle throw, Dimitri Payet, who was about to take a corner in front of the south stand, returned the object of the offense with understandable rage. Favorite, invasion of the field, Marseilles who do not back down, thrusts to the other, players physically attacked. Game stopped. Then, the Marseille club decides not to return to the lawn. We will sometimes relive such a scenario unfortunately.

Because the incidents that punctuate this nightmarish evening are in a way the preliminaries of a long series of “problematic” encounters, almost every day, although in different ways and for different reasons. However, the overall picture that is presented and dissected in the media or on social networks returns the unflattering portrait of stands on the verge of a nervous breakdown and ultras in the dock. Sanctions (in camera, points withdrawn…) follow one another without ever satisfying anyone, against a backdrop of demagogic waltzes on TV sets and invocation of the English model. The government will eventually try to put some order, especially in the decision-making process to interrupt or resume play, while the LFP, the FFF and the clubs seem to be sailing on sight. On the other side, the ultras fall back.

Peaceful atmosphere?

Where are we now? The return of the gauges with the rise of the Omicron variant sort of reset the counters to zero. The ultras mobilized as in Bordeaux against such a decision. Clubs complained and got compensation for empty seats. And since the return of the public on February 2, the climate has been rather calm. In the meantime, the debates have moved to the legislative domain. The delays in the adoption of the famous big “sport and society” law, narrowed over time like a dropper, after yet another round of discussion between deputies and senators around the veil, allowed deputy Sacha Houlié to file an amendment to allow smoke bombs. As we can see, this new Nice-Marseille arrives in a serene atmosphere to say the least.

This quarter-final should also first prove to be a sporting confrontation between two contenders for a Coupe de France all the more desirable since the elimination of PSG. Nevertheless, these strange reunions will in fact have the taste of an ordeal. We imagine for example the state of mind of a Dimitri Payet when he takes a corner. President Jean-Pierre Rivère also knows that he is expected at the turn, he who has been so criticized for a reaction deemed too conciliatory or inappropriate. The referee must have strong shoulders and a strong heart at the slightest overflow. The authorities and the Prefect will also be slightly tense in front of their monitor and their screen. Nice supporters will not be able to ignore that all eyes will be on their bend. That said, for some time, the ultras have refocused their fight. The CUP tackles the management and a PSG 2022 team without flavor and without respect for its history, which offers “a face that we no longer support. The face of a club that wants to be a global brand, obsessed with selling jerseys, to the point of forgetting its colors» . In National, the groups of supporters went to war against the matches of the week, those of Etoile Rouge in the lead. They recall thatpenalizes a large number of people, as well as volunteers, who nevertheless wish to go to the stadium to attend the matches, and who will still be working…A bottle of mineral water should not spoil the party and the fight again.

By Nicolas Kssis-Martov


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