Though Paris Saint-Germain’s 1-0 victory over Monaco Saturday earned the Parisian side the 2010 French Cup, a result from earlier in the week might have more profound ramifications for the victors. France’s interior minister outlawed as many as 5 PSG supporters clubs, a move largely provoked by the death earlier this spring of a 38 year old fan following a beating suffered a league match versus Marseille. From the Guardian’s Paul Doyle and Giles Richards :
PSG took the wrong path almost from the outset. Founded in 1970 amid dreams of grandeur, the club did not immediately attract mass support. In 1978, in a bid to foster popular fervour, the owners dubbed one end of the stadium the “Boulogne Kop” and offered cut-price tickets. Fans flocked in, but among them were many neo-Nazis, whose presence put off many other would-be supporters, especially non-whites. Rather than root out the racists, the club tried, in the early 1990s, to attract members of ethnic minorities to the opposite end of the ground, the Auteuil stand. “That was a mistake,” an unnamed former club director tells France Football. “It amounted to tacit acceptance that the Boulogne was a whites-only stand.”
The rivalry between the two ends of the Parc offers a caricature of the debate on immigration: while the Auteuil associations insist they are affirming their right to participate in public life on equal terms, the Boulogne extremists view them as unwelcome immigrants who want their women, their jobs, and now their football club.
Clashes have become more frequent and more brutal. Though a PSG fan was shot dead by police in 2006 after fighting following a Uefa Cup defeat by Hapoel Tel Aviv, Yann Lorence’s death was the first time a PSG fan has been killed by a supporter of the club. The disbanding of the fans’ groups drew predictably hostile reaction from the supporters themselves, many of whom protested before yesterday’s French Cup final between PSG and Monaco. Others believe the dissolution is not radical enough. “It is not enough to dissolve such and such supporters’ association,” declares L’Express journalist Christopher Barbier. “PSG itself must be dissolved. An example must be set for the whole country.”