Le Kiosque 17 May 2013
The headlines at our kiosques were dominated early in the week by a shocking scene at Place du Trocadéro on Monday night, when a celebration for the soccer team Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) turned into an ugly riot. The occasion was their triumph as Champion of France (Ligue 1), and it should have been all smiles. There was even supposed to be a cruise on one of the bateaux mouches that ply the Seine. The team’s owner, Nasser Al-Khelaïfi, from Qatar, had the best-laid plans! But they all went awry.
The prefect for Paris, charged with keeping order in the city, might have had reservations about holding such a demo in such a place, but apparently he just couldn’t say no to the influential Khelaïfi. PSG supporters do have a reputation for violence. But the scene at Trocadéro attracted a lot of hell raisers who had no real interest in the team. Police seemed unable – or perhaps unwilling – to bring the crowd under control. As smoke grenades and random rocks and bottles flew through the air, hooligans vandalized shops and chased journalists. And when the PSG players finally did arrive to greet the fans they stayed all of … five minutes.
The question of police effectiveness, or the lack of it, quickly hit the front pages, with many fingers pointing at Interior Minister Manuel Valls. The right-wing opposition quickly invoked its (somewhat distorted) memory of the glorious way then-Interior Minister and later President Nicolas Sarkozy supposedly resolved the big riots of 2005 (which actually went on for more than two weeks, spread across the entire country and forced the government to declare a state of emergency). It didn’t help the image of France, meanwhile, that in Manchester, on the same day, the British crowds celebrated the victory of their soccer team and commemorated the departure of their beloved trainer in a very peaceful way.
Luckily for us, the Cannes Film Festival started Wednesday night. Maybe that will help us forget this disgraceful episode…
— Solène Cressant
(Photo is of a more placid Place Jacques Copeau on the Boulevard Saint-Germain, where Diderot watches over the kiosque.)