200 fans clash before PSG-Chelsea match
PARIS (AP) About 200 supporters of Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea fought in a city center street prior to their teams’ Champions League quarterfinal match on Wednesday.
PSG’s director of security Jean-Philippe d’Halliville told The Associated Press by telephone that some 100 fans from each side – including former members of PSG’s notorious and now disbanded Kop of Boulogne hooligan group – fought for up to three minutes before riot police intervened.
He did not give further details on whether there were any arrests or injuries.
Despite tight security around the Gare du Nord train station and another known hangout for PSG troublemakers, the violence broke out on Rue Saint-Denis, near to the popular Chatelet area about two hours before the game.
Trouble marred PSG’s previous home match against Bayer Leverkusen last month.
PSG and Chelsea fans also fought last time the teams played in the competition 10 years ago.
On Wednesday evening, shards of broken glass and debris littered the Rue Saint-Denis street, where several hundred Chelsea fans had been drinking in and around bars for hours.
The fighting was most likely prearranged, d’Halliville said, as it was against Leverkusen, when 40 from each side met outside Odeon metro station in the city’s historic center. Eleven people were arrested after those fights broke out.
PSG has tried hard to eradicate a long-standing hooligan problem. Two PSG supporters died in separate incidents outside Parc des Princes stadium in 2006 and 2010.
PSG’s group match at Anderlecht earlier this season was considered high-risk and around 150 known PSG hooligans were rounded up by police before that game in Brussels.
In the same area of Paris in December, 2008 PSG and FC Twente fans fought a pitched battle in a side-street close to the landmark St. Michel fountain before their UEFA Cup match, as Christmas shoppers scattered for cover. Hundreds continued their scrapping outside the stadium later that night.
There were violent clashes between PSG and Dinamo Zagreb fans in the Bastille area of Paris the night before PSG’s home game last season, despite the French Interior Ministry issuing a decree banning Zagreb fans from attending the match amid fears of trouble. PSG had not provided club travel for its supporters in Zagreb two weeks prior to that after consulting with UEFA.
Last season’s league title celebrations turned into a fiasco as fights between fans and riot police left more than 30 people injured and led to several arrests.
PSG had serious problems with hooliganism from 1985 to 2010, as two ends of Parc des Princes – the Kop Boulogne and Tribune Auteuil – were violently opposed. The club then took measures to tackle the issue.