[OPE] Mr Sarkozy and crowd control

From: Jurriaan Bendien <adsl675281@tiscali.nl>
Date: Thu Oct 16 2008 - 13:12:26 EDT

French football matches will be cancelled if fans jeer the pre-kickoff national anthem, President Sarkozy has decreed, after the Marseillaise was drowned out by mocking whistles at the start of a France-Tunisia friendly at the Stade de France on Tuesday night. The incident in Paris, which drew indignation from the political and sports worlds, was the third in which French crowds of immigrant origin have whistled and booed the home team when it played one of the country's former North African colonies. The jeering began as soon as Lm, a young French pop singer of Tunisian background, began a solo rendition of the Marseillaise. The 50,000 crowd, dominated by fans of Tunisian and North African origin, also chanted "Tunisia, Tunisia" and booed when French players' names were announced before the kick-off. After France established a 3-1 lead, many spectators deserted the stadium before the referee's final whistle. Television commentators deplored the behaviour of the crowd. Mr Sarkozy and the authorities had no time for the standard explanation that the jeering reflected anger among second-generation youths from the immigrant estates over their exclusion from mainstream France. He arrived late at the match and was furious to see the crowd booing French-North African players. "This is nothing less than scandalous," he said. (...) Mr Sarkozy has long seen rebellion in the football stadiums as a threat to law and order and the nation. As Interior Minister in 2003, he reacted to the jeering of the Marseillaise by bringing in a law that made it an offence to insult the national flag or anthem, on pain of six months in jail and a 6,000 fine. Critics at the time called the law unworkable and very few cases have reached the courts. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/sport/football/article4950328.ece

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