French media heaps praise on Irish fans – as mayors say they want Green Army to qualify
THE Green Army are now officially the star supporters of Euro 2016.
French politicians and media have heaped praise on the fans’ enthusiasm and impeccable behaviour.
There has been no trouble involving Irish supporters over the first eight days of the tournament.
Now French mayors have said they would like Ireland to qualify for the last 16 and secure a play-off game in their city.
The attitude of the 100,00- strong Green Army stands in marked contrast to the behaviour of some Russian, English, French and German fans.
Two cities, Lille and Marseille, have witnessed violent clashes between supporters.
In contrast, both Paris and Bordeaux have seen Irish fans singing, drinking and dancing with their Swedish and Belgian counterparts.
Traders in Montmartre, where Irish fans based themselves in Paris, admitted they were heartbroken at the loss of the trouble-free Irish trade.
The Mayor of Bordeaux Alain Juppe has now joined with the Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo in speaking about the feel-good factor involving Irish fans.
Mr Juppe, one of France’s longest-serving mayors, noted that the atmosphere between Belgian and Irish fans had been “very positive”.
“It is what we desire,” he said.
Ms Hidalgo praised Irish and Swedish fans for the remarkable rapport they struck up in Paris.
Newspapers including Le Figaro, L’Equipe and Sud-Ouest have been hugely complimentary about the atmosphere that Irish fans bring to match venues.
BuzzFeedFrance hailed Irish fans for clearly being the best of Euro 2016.
Amazed French media outlets have compared the carnage caused in Marseilles by Russian and English fans with Irish supporters in Paris – one group helped one motorist change a flat tyre on their car. In Bordeaux fans sang as they helped clean up a street after a party.
In Bordeaux, Irish fans even acted as peace-makers, helping diffuse tensions between English and Welsh fans.
A group of Irish fans intervened and helped calm a confrontation, eventually taking the Welsh fans for drinks.
Ireland’s Ambassador to France, Geraldine Byrne-Nason, said the glowing tributes were entirely warranted.
“It is what we have come to expect from Irish fans, we are not really surprised,” she said.
The eight-strong garda team in France, led by Supt Gerry Delmar, said there have been no incidents.