On Wednesday afternoon, French Interior Minister Gérald Darminin and Sport Minister Amélie Oudéa-Castéra are questioned before the French Senate on their reaction to the dangerous brawls and police violence that took place at the Stade de France last Saturday ahead of the UEFA Champions League final between Liverpool and Real Madrid.
The couple have repeatedly tried to blame Liverpool fans for the chaotic scenes at St Denis, despite mountains of video evidence showing fans, including women and children, arrived early in time for the game and over 30 minutes before locked turnstiles in dangerous places Squads were arrested two and a half hours before kick-off and were pepper-sprayed and beaten by local MPs.
In a press conference on Tuesday, Darmanin and Oudéa-Castéra reiterated their guilt towards Liverpool fans, citing statistics showing up to 40,000 people tried to enter the stadium with fake tickets or no tickets at all. These numbers have been proven physically, mathematically, literally impossible in the immediate aftermath.
To understand why these untruths are being actively spread by two high-ranking figures in the French government with enormous public safety responsibilities, we need to look at the current political situation in France, where these two ministers come from and why they are in their current roles and what was the reaction in France to the incident and the highly controversial and downright offensive nonsense that has been circulated in the days since.
Gerald Darmanin is France’s interior minister. This is the French equivalent of Home Secretary, the position currently held by Priti Patel in the UK.
Until 2017 he was a member of Les Républicains, the centre-right party of former President Nicolas Sarkozy and the approximate equivalent of the Conservative Party in the UK. The same year after current President Emmanuel Macron defected from the Socialists and declared he would start his own radical centrist political movement called En Marche! found, Darmanin defected and joined the group.
With the votes on the French left divided between a number of different parties, Macron later became president in a runoff against fascist Marine Len Pen of the Front National and has led France ever since.
Darmanin was elected Home Secretary by Macron and Prime Minister Jean Castex in July 2020. Since then, Darmanin has become perhaps the most unpopular of all government ministers in France.
Darmanin has opposed same-sex marriage in the past and has voted against it in the past. The 39-year-old, who was born in Valenciennes in the north-east of the country, has been accused twice by women who accuse him of using his political power to coerce them into sexual acts.
Hundreds of women took to the streets of Paris in 2020 to protest Darmanin’s appointment as home secretary.
Amélie Oudéa-Castéra is France’s sports minister. She only became sports minister on May 20 this year and is partly tasked with overseeing the administration of the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games, which will be held in Paris.
The 44-year-old is a former professional tennis player who achieved a career-best 251 on the Women’s Tour in 1995 before retiring a year later. She qualified once for the French Open at Roland Garros in 1994, losing comprehensively in the first round.
In 2006 she married Frédéric Oudéa, current President of the European Banking Federation and CEO of giant French bank Société Générale. In 2016, following the publication of the Panama Papers, Oudéa defended the use of offshore banking in tax havens to avoid paying taxes.
Oudéa-Castéra has been a close friend of President Macron for over twenty years, and both attended Strasbourg’s prestigious National School of Administration, which has produced most French presidents, prime ministers and government officials since it opened in 1945 until it closed late last year.
What was the reaction to the untruths of Darmanin and Oudéa-Castéra??
In Twitter polls conducted by French news media organization RMC this week, 94% of respondents have said Darminin lies about what happened at the Stade de France and the behavior of Liverpool fans, while 89% said he was lying about the matter should resign.
On Wednesday, the national newspaper Libération ran a front page featuring Darminin, who is pictured with an elongated Pinocchio-style nose and a headline that says he “writes his own match report”.
Oudéa-Castéra’s tweets, meanwhile, are met with angry backlash from French people, who speak out about how embarrassed they are by their ministers’ actions and the damage to France’s reputation on the international stage.
In media appearances I’ve made in France over the week on major networks such as France Info, France 4, Canal+ and BFMTV, moderators and guests have nodded as I denounced ministers’ claims as physically impossible and untrue. They raise questions about the severity of the trauma suffered by some fans and the risk of a major diplomatic incident between the UK and France.
Why would these ministers speak falsely to the public??
Although Macron was re-elected to another five-year term as president earlier this year, French voters will go to the polls on June 12 and 19 to vote for their MPs.
Macron’s political coalition is very unstable. Because his movement is so new, its members come from different parts of the political spectrum, and because he had increasingly slid to the right on social issues such as policing, poverty and immigration to counter threats from far-right politicians Le Pen and Éric Zemmour.
The 44-year-old president is by no means popular, his approval ratings among the general public are currently around the -13 percent mark. Re-elected in the absence of an alternative considered credible by the French people, he was restored to power in the second round of the presidential campaign by voters from other parties who sought to vehemently confront his opponent, Le Pen.
All of this means that the positions of senior politicians in the French government are at risk. En Marche won an absolute majority in 2017 with 43 percent of the vote and 308 seats. This time they only get 26 percent in polls, with the far-right Front National led by Le Pen breathing down their necks with 21 percent and the left-wing coalition NUPES taking the lead with 28 percent.
What the French government is doing is trying to blame a faceless mass of foreign people for their own abject failures. This is a common government tactic around the world, every day, and we see it regularly in the UK when migrants, refugees and asylum seekers are blamed for social problems created by those in power.
Simply put, public opinion about the Stade de France carnage and the fact that the police brutality, government incompetence and government ministerial untruths known and debated around the world pose a very real electoral threat to Macron and his colleagues.
They are now afraid of the consequences of the chaos inflicted on fans just trying to catch a football game.
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https://metro.co.uk/2022/06/01/why-french-government-ministers-are-telling-mistruths-about-liverpool-fans-16747551/ Why French Government Ministers Are Telling Untruths About Liverpool Fans | Soccer