Monday, September 22, 2008

French "Culture"

Carlos Amado (who is currently finishing an MA thesis on violence in soccer stadiums) sent me some links to fights between fans of Paris Saint-Germain's football club and those of Auxerre and Marseille. There are a number of skirmishes on YouTube. Here is a video of Marseille fans "welcoming" the fans and team from Paris:

And here is the translation (warning: appropriate for neither children nor my employer, hence the ****s):

Parisians, we're going to kill you.
Parisians, we're going to f*** your mother.
Parisians, we're going to kill all of you.
Paris, we f*** you in the a**.
Parisians are all pederasts.
Paris, Paris, we f*** you in the a**.

From the country of Baudelaire and Proust. Nice. Surprisingly, though, some of their "poems" are actually composed in alexandrines. (If you think this type of insult is unusual, read some of the comments below the video... it goes from bad to worse.)

To Carlos' point (see comment in preceding post), Paris and Marseille have tended to have the most violent fans and they also have some of the most economically depressed neighborhoods in France. But there are certainly some other factors at play here, too (the Boulogne Boys of PSG have used nazi salutes at times and there were several incidents of racial insults and banners during last season in France's Ligue 1--notably in Corsica and in Metz).

Seeing this video and others like it, I seriously doubt public service announcements or an ad campaign against rude fan behavior will have any impact. The violence stems not from a general lack of civility but from much deeper issues linked to group identity, socio-economic level, perceptions of immigrants, and/or general angst about one's place (and lack of mobility) in society. Andy Markovits (in his book Offside) contends that for a young man, his favorite sports team may be the only constant in his life: girlfriend/wife, religion, job, etc. may all abandon him or prove unsatisfactory--but his team and fellow hooligans are always there. This makes identification to a team paramount and leads to the kinds of excesses seen in the above video.

Have you heard of anything like this in U.S. stadiums? England, as Carlos pointed out, gentrified their soccer leagues by increasing ticket prices, pulling out all bleacher seating, and cracking down on organized fan groups. Would the same thing work in Argentina? In France? In Provo City Little League?

Update: Carlos sent me the following link to demonstrate the extent of the violence in Argentine soccer:

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