Official speeches and statements - June 13, 2016
The Interior Ministry emphasizes the work done by the security forces during the first weekend of football’s Euro 2016.
On Friday, police made 116 arrests, 63 of which led to custody. Three expulsion orders have already been issued against violent supporters, and five new bans on entry to our territory have been applied in relation to foreign individuals identified for their risk of public order disturbances.
These actions to step up security will continue throughout the competition.
(Check against delivery)
Ladies and gentlemen,
The events which occurred in Marseille yesterday evening are unacceptable. Unacceptable for the authorities, unacceptable for society, unacceptable for people who love football. We witnessed violence between supporters, provoked by alcohol-fueled mobs who engaged in unacceptable acts of violence.
They are also unacceptable for the police, and I note with dismay that, for the umpteenth time, some people have already started holding them responsible, without questioning the fundamental and recurrent issue of violence caused by some football competitions. The public order operation set in motion in Marseille yesterday was proportionate. It was responsive and enabled calm to be restored in an hour and a half, both by separating the highly intoxicated protagonists and immediately helping those injured. We must be able to host a football competition in our country, and elsewhere in Europe, without - in addition to the preventive measures which have been taken and which I’ll come back to - turning our towns and cities into fortified camps.
I welcome UEFA’s decision to sanction the teams whose pseudo-supporters engage in these acts of violence. The people who displayed such unfortunate behaviour in the stadium are the same people who sought to spread chaos in the city centre and in the Old Port. These violent groups use sport as an excuse. There must be no indulgence towards them on the part of sporting federations and bodies. It’s absolutely necessary for the national federations of the countries whose supporters spark incidents of this nature to be penalized in proportion to the disturbances they cause, certainly in the stadiums - that’s the very minimum - but also outside the stadiums. Once again - as has been the case for nearly 20 years - an international football competition has been the setting for clashes between violent individuals claiming to be supporters of their national teams. The incidents which occurred in Marseille yesterday, but also in Nice, are unfortunately part of the same picture that characterized Euro 2012, particularly at the time of the Poland-Russia match.
First of all, I’d like to pay solemn tribute to the determined action of the security forces in Marseille, which enabled the disturbances to be contained, the groups to be separated and calm to be restored as quickly as possible in the city. Among those injured, one British national was seriously hurt. He was immediately helped by the security forces, notably riot police, who carried out heart massage which revived him, and he was evacuated and treated in hospital. Today I hear certain professional or amateur commentators calling into question the state’s actions. Given the efforts invested by the security forces, these remarks are unfair and irresponsible. I can’t accept such language. What we’re facing today goes well beyond policing operations and is, unfortunately, inherent to certain international football competitions. So I don’t and won’t tolerate people questioning the work of police and gendarmes, who, in extremely difficult conditions, contained the incidents both geographically and over time. Nor will I ever accept that we must turn city centers into fortresses that should be patrolled by thousands of police and gendarmes, to protect the rest of the population from barbaric behavior which penalizes the host cities’ inhabitants and genuine supporters.
Preventing sports-related violence has been a priority for the Interior Ministry for several years. Stadium bans and travel restrictions and bans have allowed us to pacify sporting venues and their surroundings. In this context, the risk of international hooliganism was clearly taken into account in the preparations for Euro 2016, in the same way as other threats, including terrorism. More than 200 foreign police officers are helping to make Euro 2016 safe. Some are constantly present at the international police cooperation center set up in Lognes. They’re involved in exchanging operational intelligence in real time. Others, including spotters, are deployed on the ground, alongside the French security forces, and particularly police from the national anti-hooliganism division. Their mission is to detect the presence of troublemakers and hooligans in the vicinity of the stadiums, in fan zones and on transport infrastructure, so that they can be arrested immediately.
In order to anticipate excesses and clashes, matches classed as high-risk are the focus of special attention and benefit from heightened security provision. That was the case with the England-Russia match, and in order to deal with it, reinforcements were made available to the police chief in Bouches-du-Rhône, with 10 riot police units sent. The same heightened security provision was set in motion for the Turkey-Croatia match; it went ahead in Paris and has just finished, so far without incident, and we’re remaining vigilant and mobilized for it.
Moreover, in recent weeks more than 3,000 national entry ban measures have been taken by the Interior Ministry, on the basis of stadium ban databases from the different countries taking part in the competition, or information on individuals who are likely to provoke public order disturbances on national territory. At the French authorities’ request, the British government has, for its part, retained the passports of 3,000 hooligans, thus preventing them from coming to France throughout the duration of the competition.
At European level and collectively, we must develop provisions and regulations. That’s why I’m calling on each of the stakeholders to shoulder their responsibilities.
In the specific situation we face, the police can’t be diverted from their task of making the public safe because of the irresponsible, wilful behaviour of supporters whose only motive is to disrupt public order and whose unacceptable activities I utterly condemn.
This is why I restated to the préfets (1), in a circular sent this afternoon reiterating instructions already issued, the need to issue orders requiring all foreign supporters whose behaviour disrupts public order to be escorted to the border or forced to leave French territory. Their activities divert the police from their prime task of protecting our country from the terrorist threat.
Any supporter arrested during incidents may also be served with a ban. These measures will apply to every host city and concern the stadiums, fan zones and other areas of the cities. They will be adopted on match days, but also on days before matches, and violating them will constitute a criminal offense punishable by law.
Several préfets have already imposed restrictions on the sale, transport and consumption of alcohol. I asked them to take all necessary steps to prohibit the sale, consumption and transport of alcoholic drinks in sensitive areas on days before matches, match days and days when the fan zones are open. This measure may apply to public areas, local shops and authorized establishments if selling alcohol to take away.
Préfets will also be able to ban from the terraces receptacles likely to be used as projectiles.
As I pledged, we are permanently adapting ourselves to the threats we anticipate. Since the start of the competition, préfets have taken steps aimed at this. It is up to them to adapt these measures, in real time, to the threats and to the local situation in each host city.
Ladies and gentlemen, there can’t be the slightest impunity for all these individuals whose violent acts can’t be tolerated. The Interior Ministry is utterly determined. These individuals should know that they will be tirelessly pursued and handed over to the judicial authority, as demonstrated by the arrests in Marseille yesterday and Paris today, so that justice is served and these violent individuals are punished.
(1) high-ranking civil servants who represent the state at the level of the department or region.