How the French far-right is trying to use the suffering of Liverpool fans at the Stade de France to gain ground in France’s elections | Soccer

The extreme right has gained popularity in France in recent years. (Photo by Chesnot/Getty Images)

Last week there was a surge of support for Liverpool fans in France after traveling Reds were disgraced by French authorities before and after UEFA Champions League final against Real Madrid at the Stade de France.

Liverpool supporters, including women and children, were beaten with shields, confronted with tear gas and forced into dangerous scrums by French riot police, whose security strategy was designed to control what they perceived as hordes of violent hooligans. The people there were actually normal people who wanted to go to a football game and support their team.

Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin and Sport Minister Amélie Oudéa-Castéra later dropped their masks when called before the French Senate to explain the chaos that was taking place around the stadium in St Denis when the couple were “ticketless”, “drunk.” ‘blamed’, and ‘violent’ Liverpool fans for the harm inflicted on them in a shameful hearing that mirrored the lies following the Hillsborough disaster and caused scandal around the world.

The pair had used outdated and downright false prejudices about British football fans as justification for the injuries and trauma suffered by fans ahead of club football’s biggest game, and sought to blame a mass of foreign people for their own desperate failures.

An opinion poll released late last week showed that 76 per cent of French people believe Darmanin, who spent three hours at the Senate hearing and failed to produce a single photograph or video to lend credence to his version of events, lied about Liverpool fans who caused the disruption that made headlines around the world.

It should come as no surprise that the vast majority of French people do not believe Darmanin and Oudéa-Castéra. The French government has used increasingly repressive police methods against its own population in recent years, with the use of tear gas escalating and incidents of police brutality turning into major scandals.

In 2020, President Emmanuel Macron failed to get a bill through parliament that would have given police even more dystopian powers, including a law barring protesters and journalists from filming the actions of officers on duty.

The “yellow vest” protests that erupted in France in 2018, which began with motorists protesting rising fuel prices and the cost of living, have seen horrific incidents of police violence in the years since.

The fact that Liverpool fans have been attacked with indiscriminate violence by the authorities hasn’t come as much of a surprise to many in France, and the support comes from a populace tired of themselves being treated like dangerous animals, to name the order.

Police stand in front of fans before the UEFA Champions League final match between Liverpool and Real Madrid at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, north of Paris May 28, 2022. (Photo by Thomas COEX / AFP) (Photo by THOMAS COEX /AFP via Getty Images)

French riot police injured Liverpool fans at the Stade de France. (AFP via Getty Images)

However, some of the support being shown to Liverpool fans has a far more nefarious undercurrent. Last week a banner calling for Darmanin’s resignation was unfurled by a group of young French people in front of the Stade de France, with #IStandWithEnglishFans written beneath it.

Thousands of Liverpool supporters took to it as a show of cross-border solidarity, by football fans standing together in the face of the brutality. Unfortunately, the banner belonged to a group of activists called Les Natifs, an ultra-nationalist political organization trying to exploit the suffering of Reds fans for their own ends.

This group, along with thousands of voters across the country, are attempting to use the violence inflicted on fans by local youth as justification for increased government racist policies. Their arguments completely ignore the fact that it was the police who left Liverpool fans with zero protection in an area known for theft and mugging, and the failure of the French state to integrate socio-economically and culturally, resulting in that areas like St. Denis have high rates of violent crime.

The main opposition in France in the last elections was the extreme right. Under Marine Le Pen’s leadership, the Front National has grown in popularity, and Le Pen has finished second in the last two presidential elections.

Marine Le Pen came second in the presidential election earlier this year. (Photo by Sylvain Lefevre/Getty Images)

Although the party has increasingly turned to the mainstream in recent years to rehabilitate its image, at its core, Le Pen’s group’s views remain bigoted and twisted. The Front National has also been flanked even further by the far right in recent years by arsonist Éric Zemmour, who enjoys the support of those who believe Le Pen’s brand of fascism is not strong enough.

The extreme right has seen a surge in support in France in recent years, particularly among young people. Le Pen’s father Jean-Marie got 10% of the first-round vote when he last ran as a presidential candidate in 2007, while his daughter got 24% in a more contested field as leader of the same party earlier this year.

More 25-34 year olds voted for Len Pen than Macron, in stark comparison to the UK where older people are generally more likely to vote for right-wing candidates.

Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s left-wing coalition NUPES is currently leading the polls ahead of the general elections in France. (Photo by STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN/AFP via Getty Images)

With elections coming up on June 12-19 in France, where MPs will be elected for the next five-year cycle, any demonstration of support for Liverpool fans from the far right is actually a thinly veiled ploy to capitalize on the carnage to keep France in towards authoritarianism and intolerance.

A left-wing coalition called NUPES is currently leading the general election polls, ahead of Macron’s ruling La République En March party, but the Front National is breathing down their necks in third place.

Any online groups or accounts that use the French flag, nationalistic-sounding names and motifs, or racial hatred should be treated with deep suspicion and should not be tolerated. Their beliefs are at odds with what so many who follow Liverpool stand for and the need to get the truth out about what happened at the Stade de France should not allow fans to use a tool to tell to increase the voting power of fanatics .

Fans should be careful about what they share online. The desire to prove Darmanin and Oudéa-Castéra are not honest is clear and just, but it’s important to remember that your enemy’s enemy isn’t necessarily your friend.

Why French government ministers keep telling untruths about Liverpool fans

Uefa apologizes to Liverpool and Real Madrid fans after Champions League final fiasco

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Liverpool FC How the French far-right is trying to use the suffering of Liverpool fans at the Stade de France to gain ground in France's elections | Soccer

Nate Jones

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