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News > France

French Police Ready to Crack Down on Algerian Soccer Fans

  • Algeria's Adlene Guedioura and team mates celebrate winning the Africa Cup of Nations at the end of the match

    Algeria's Adlene Guedioura and team mates celebrate winning the Africa Cup of Nations at the end of the match | Photo: Reuters

Published 19 July 2019

Algeria has won the African Cup of Nations against Senegal on Friday night, with excitement high in France which is home to a huge Algerian-origin population due to the country's recent colonial past.

Thousands of extra French police are set to be on duty later Friday in Paris and other major cities for the final of the Africa Cup of nations following exuberant street celebrations that has been used by the government and the far-right to spread racist views on French citizens with immigrant origins.

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Algeria won the Africa Cup of Nations for the second time on Friday when a fortuitous second-minute goal gave them a 1-0 win over Senegal in the final.

Around 2,500 police officers are mobilized around the Champs-Elysees and Arc de Triomphe where crowds set off fireworks and flew flags from car windows last Sunday, which was also France's national Bastille Day.

Thousands of people partied in the streets when Algeria won its quarter-final on July 11 and then again for the semi-final on July 14.

Clashes with police in the early hours, saw more than 200 people arrested, leading to public indignation expressed from the right-wing government, as well as far-right politicians.

They exploited the nationalist sentiment that surrounded Bastille Day, which celebrates the French Republic and its armed forces, as it was taking place on the same day of the semi-final.

Such debates have flared in France in the past after major soccer games involving Algeria including during World Cup games in 2014, which led far-right leader Marine Le Pen to propose stripping rioters of their French nationality.

However, Paris police have dismissed a demand from the National Rally for Algeria fans to be barred from the Champs-Elysees on Friday as impractical and unfair.

"For me, the people coming to the Champs-Elysees are joyous citizens," police chief Lallement told the press conference.

Indeed, most of soccer fans in France marked Algeria's last two victories in the Africa Cup peacefully and many Franco-Algerians just feel free to celebrate the successes of both countries.

"There are always groups of hooligans for every sports events who come and create chaos. We shouldn't exaggerate this violence," Karim Amellal, a French writer and academic with family roots in Algeria, told AFP.

He added that some Franco-Algerians brandish their attachment to north Africa due to their sense of exclusion from France, which has in many aspects failed to address institutional racism targeting its large Muslim population and come to terms with its colonial past.

Algeria was under the French colonial rule for 130 years.

Algeria's squad features more than a dozen Franco-Algerians, while captain Riyad Mahrez was born and grew up in the multi-ethnic Sarcelles suburb north of Paris.

Djamel Belmadi, Algeria's coach, was also born in a Parisian suburb, Champigny-sur-Marne - and became friends there with Senegal's coach Aliou Cisse, who arrived in France aged nine.

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