The General Manager of AS Saint-Étienne reminds us why the club has launched appeals in order to allow the fans to travel to Lyon and explains the reasons why he finds himself at a stalemate despite all the efforts made to enforce the law.
THE DIALOGUE WITH THE FANS. – We campaigned so that our fans could attend the derby by launching two appeals, one before the High Commission of Appeals of the FFF, the other before the Administrative Court of Lyon. We’re still waiting for a convocation of the FFF while the Administrative Court ruled our appeal to be inadmissible because it rules that the prefectural decree prohibiting our fans from travelling to Lyon does not prevent us from playing the match. It’s the fervour of fans, especially in Saint-Étienne, that makes Football a popular sport. The derby must be a celebration for all stakeholders and a celebration without violence. We have a very clear discourse with our fans and we will not condone any violence. We’re not naive, we know very well that here, like in every club, people use the movement of fans to fight. We’ve said it time and time again to not incite violence, provoke hatred or aggression. We are and will always be very active in identifying and punishing those responsible for acts of violence. This position is a precursor of all our discussions and actions with our fans.
THE PREFECTURAL DECREE AND THE ABSENCE OF THE FANS IN LYON. – The arguments presented in the prefectural decree that prohibit travel to Lyon are not appropriate. This decree evokes history that goes back to another era. The men, the means of security and organisation have changed a lot in the past ten years. An organized and supervised trip of our fans seems to us to be the best solution. We were aware that such a trip required adapted police forces but the application of the prefectural decree also requires it even if it does not provide any guarantee in terms of security. We understand that the authorities can lack the means to assure security during a derby but they have to clearly say this and not hide behind arguments that refer to very old events.
THE SANCTION OF THE LFP AND THE USE OF PYROTECHNIC DEVICES. – “The disciplinary committee of the LFP decided to close our section of the stadium in Lyon due to the use of pyrotechnic devices during our recent trip to Nîmes. We are required, like every club, to respect the laws regarding smoke bombs. We contest neither their ban, nor the fact that they can be dangerous when they are misused, in the middle of a crowd. ASSE does its utmost to enforce the law but it is impossible to prevent the introduction of smoke in a stadium if one or several individuals decide to set them off. During our last trip to Paris, 80 police officers were mobilised in order to search our fans, an average of one police officer for less than four fans. Every fan was searched. Our supporter liaison officer and our stewards were searched as well. These measures did not dissuade certain fans from lighting some. The smoke bombs are small and available over-the-counter. Despite all our efforts, we lack the means to prevent the use of pyrotechnic devices. We don’t have a large enough police presence to conduct searches and filing complaints very rarely leads to convictions. So we ask that all our stakeholders sit down together in order to find solutions instead of continuing to make the sanctions more severe. Football is moving more and more away from its fans, who are nevertheless an integral part of it. We have to be careful because this could be a losing situation for everyone.