Scores arrested as PSG fans riot in Paris after defeat

Police used tear gas to try and disperse the rioting fans. AFP/Alain JOCARD

More than 150 people were arrested as Paris Saint-Germain fans set cars ablaze, smashed shop windows and clashed with police in the French capital after their team’s Champions League final defeat to Bayern Munich, police said Monday.

The violence occurred around PSG’s Parc des Princes home stadium and on the Champs-Elysees avenue during and after the match on Sunday night.

Under the government’s coronavirus rules, no more than 5,000 fans sporting PSG flags and face masks could gather inside the stadium to watch 1-0 defeat in Lisbon on two big screens.

But many more gathered outside, where they threw bottles and fireworks at police who responded with tear gas and rubber bullets, an AFP reporter said.

The trouble lasted several hours, and on the Champs-Elysees, PSG fans set fire to cars, broke windows, and vandalised shops.

Cars were set ablaze on the Champs-Elysees. AFP/Sameer Al-DOUMY
Cars were set ablaze on the Champs-Elysees. AFP/Sameer Al-DOUMY

“I worked yesterday but I closed when I saw what was happening,” said Fethi Debbich, who works at a restaurant in the area.

“They broke all the windows, they vandalised everything. They stole money, cigarettes, alcohol, champagne, an Ipad, even chairs and the juicer,” he told AFP.

“I don’t know why they’re targeting us,” added Andrea, who works at a pizzeria which had its front window knocked out.

“They already came with the semi-final, they tried to force the lock. This time they broke everything, they entered but they took only five or six bottles.”

– ‘Troublemakers’ –

Police said 151 people were arrested on charges including violence against law enforcers, theft, possession of stolen goods, damage to property and refusing orders to disperse. They included 49 minors.

Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said on Twitter that 16 police members were injured, 12 shops attacked and about 15 vehicles damaged in the rampage.

The riots lasted several hours during and after the match. AFP/Alain JOCARD
The riots lasted several hours during and after the match. AFP/Alain JOCARD

In a tweet on Sunday night, he condemned the “unacceptable” violence and thanked the police who arrested “small violent groups, troublemakers.”

In a bid to prevent any further incidents, Paris police head Didier Lallement on Monday banned all gatherings planned for PSG’s return later in the day “everywhere in the capital” and until 6:00 am (0400 GMT) on Tuesday.

Bars and restaurants in the area of the Parc des Princes would also remain closed.

Burned-out cars and broken glass still littered the Champs-Elysees Monday morning, where rioters had vandalised and broken into a flagship branch of French sports goods chain Decathlon.

– ‘Get tested’ –

Social distancing measures were ignored inside and outside the Parc des Princes Sunday night among fans who had hoped to see their Qatar-owned team’s first triumph in Europe’s top club competition.

Police said 404 people were stopped for not wearing face masks, now mandatory in parts of the city as part of measures to curb the coronavirus outbreak.

Paris Saint Germain fans had hoped to see their team's first triumph in Europe's top club competition . AFP/Sameer Al-DOUMY
Paris Saint Germain fans had hoped to see their team’s first triumph in Europe’s top club competition
. AFP/Sameer Al-DOUMY

Anne Souyris, deputy Paris mayor in charge of health issues, said supporters who followed the match in groups should all take coronavirus tests.

“We see hundreds upon hundreds of people who are not wearing a mask and that’s a real problem,” she told Franceinfo radio.

“I firmly urge all those who were on the Champs-Elysees to get tested,” she added.

There has been growing concern in recent days over a surge in coronavirus cases in France which authorities have blamed largely on young people not observing social distancing rules.

Almost 4,900 new cases were recorded on Sunday, a new post-lockdown record.

Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo had called for “mature celebrations” should PSG beat Bayern, after supporters clashed with police following their 3-0 win over RB Leipzig in the semi-finals.

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