Misguided passion from fanatics of English Premier League football club Chelsea reportedly boiled over into chaos on Wednesday in Paris ahead of the Blues' quarter-final UEFA Champions League matchup with Paris Saint-Germain.
Peter Allen and Henry Samuel of The Telegraph were on the scene to report the unfortunate news, as a violent spectacle unfolded, featuring broken tables, chairs and smashed windows in the Rue St Denis area. Approximately 100 hooligan fans participated in that destructive siege.
Paris journalist Peter Allen captured images of the conflict—along with some of the damage the fans inflicted—and provided further information from Paris police:
Serious fighting in rue St Denis, Paris, involving Chelsea & PSG fans in progess. Shops & cafés attacked. pic.twitter.com/iW77AMYSdR— Peter Allen (@peterallenparis) April 2, 2014
EDL chants & Sieg Heil salutes fm alleged Chelsea fans currently smashing up shops & cafés in central Paris pic.twitter.com/Et8p3xVJAu— Peter Allen (@peterallenparis) April 2, 2014
Around 100 'ultra' PSG hooligans have been targeting Chelsea fans all days, trying to provoke them into fights, say Paris police— Peter Allen (@peterallenparis) April 2, 2014
The Telegraph's report notes that the fans began with drinks at the Frog and Rosbif pub, then crossed the street to continue their debauchery at The Thistle. Racist chants, obscene gestures and other offenses were made by "some 400 thugs," who then proceeded to attack Paris Saint-Germain fans.
One officer who was attempting to control the situation implied that the worst may have been yet to come.
"We’re trying to contain the violence but it’s spreading," said the officer, per the report.
The report also recorded comments from a French student named Sarah Avel, 16, who was fearful and wanted to escape as soon as possible.
"It’s terrifying – I just want to get out of here," said Avel. "We could hear the chanting all afternoon but we didn’t expect fighting."
With how much importance the Champions League tournament carries on the world football stage, it makes sense that those who love the sport become engrossed by it and are eager to consume the spectacle. This was a case where Blues fans clearly crossed the line with their misconduct, which caused plenty of damage and harm to others.
On the pitch Wednesday, the hosting Paris Saint-Germain club disposed of Chelsea 3-1 to take a commanding lead entering the second leg:
Duncan Castles of the Sunday Times provided his analysis:
In the case of the violence involving fans, physical confrontation should never be the answer. Fans should take mutual enjoyment in friendly competition. The culture of hooliganism and gang associations appear to be at the epicenter of this conflict, though, so reasoning with the parties involved likely won't resolve much.
Preventative measures for retaliatory acts in the future will also be difficult to come by. Right now, focus must go toward stopping those who perpetrated these heinous acts and, if not bring them to justice, ensure their departure from Paris.
This is indeed a scary situation and a reminder of the fine line sports can facilitate between enjoying them as entertainment, but having enough self-control to express strong emotions in a healthy manner.