Friday 23 March 2018

Paris celebrations hit by violence

David Beckham was among the Paris Saint Germain players taking part in a trophy parade in the French capital
David Beckham was among the Paris Saint Germain players taking part in a trophy parade in the French capital

Paris Saint-Germain's celebrations at ending their 19-year wait for the French league title were cut short following violent scenes in which supporters clashed with riot police.

Tens of thousands of fans waited patiently for the players - including David Beckham - to turn up more than an hour late at Trocadero plaza, a famous Paris landmark near the Eiffel Tower, to toast PSG's third league title and its first since 1994.

Dressed smartly in dark suits, the players drew loud cheers from the fans, some of whom stood on rooftops, lit flares and climbed scaffolding.

But there was not even time for a speech from coach Carlo Ancelotti or captain Thiago Silva, who held the trophy aloft with Mamadou Sakho. After only a few minutes, the players were led away by security officials - after which the frustration of the fans boiled over.

Small groups of riot police started to move forward, with the mood turning increasingly ugly. The disgruntled fans threw stones and other objects at the police, who fired tear gas canisters in response.

Sporadic fighting between fans and police around the Trocadero continued two hours after the ceremony ended, and the players' planned moonlit boat trip along the Seine river was cancelled.

There was even fighting among the supporters, while shop and car windows were smashed near the Champs Elysees.

Reports said several fans were treated for minor injuries.

On what was supposed to be a night of celebration, the clashes dominated the news headlines. The scenes will deal a blow to the club's image, three years after a PSG fan was killed in fighting outside Parc des Princes stadium - the second hooligan-related death at the club since 2006.

"There were fireworks, flares and a bit of (tear) gas flying about," PSG defender Zoumana Camara said. "But you can understand that a bit because they (the fans) have been waiting for so long."

Press Association

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