Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Hooligans, and the response thereto

Marc explains the news from France.

The stories HERE and HERE.

So this "marketing" company Mailorama wants to do a promotional event. They decide to copy a stunt done elsewhere (USA, USA!) by giving away cash in the street. A scandalous idea for the French political elite, who want to downplay the desperate financial situation of many French people (see the Yes Men getting Sarkozy's BFF Patrick Balkany explaining that "poor" people in France are simply those who buy foie gras in bulk just below), who want to deny that the French are just as greedy as those corrupt Anglo-Saxon capitalists, and who want to blame those that exploit poverty rather than work to eliminate it.

(This reminds me of the scandal caused during a Socialist government by a rent-to-own firm. The deals offered by the firm were dreadful in financial terms, with purchase plans that were usurous, but that at least offered those without access to credit a possibility to obtain some goods that society tells them they must have, like color TVs. Rather than worry about the financial illiteracy of the French, an illiteracy shared by much of the political class, or the existence of poverty, the government of the time blamed those that would "exploit" poverty by offering the poor a choice.)

Anyway, the giveaway was announced for last week behind the Ecole Militaire, not far from the Eiffel Tower. A huge crowd arrived. The police told the organizers that the situation was dangerous (natch), so the organizers called off the distribution. A riot ensued, with a car burned, stores pillaged, the police attacked, etc. Typical French civism, in short, and totally predictable when you tell a bunch of greedy and/or poor people they're not getting the handout they were promised.

The Ministry of the Interior says it's going to prosecute the organizers. The organizers say they had a permit from the Police. The police say they didn't give a permit, and couldn't ban the event because it's only a minor infraction to distribute money in public (yes, it's against the law to distribute money in public in France... only the State can do that, when it serves its interest, for example with the special grant families with children receive for Christmas). Oddly enough, the police manage to ban all sorts of events when it suits them.

Basically, they fucked up, and now the State is going to sue, sue, sue those responsible (well, those they claim are responsible).

Now on to our other story. Last month, the match between the Paris Saint Germain and the Olympique de Marseille football teams was called off at the last minute. There were questions about a mini-swine flu epidemic on the Paris team, but the Federation decided to wait until the day of the match, after many Parisian thugs had arrived in Marseille or were on their way there, to cancel the match. As is typical during a Paris-Marseille match, there was rioting, but even more so than usual.

Similarly, last weekend there was a match between Egypt and Algeria. Algeria lost, so of course, there was rioting in Marseille.

On Friday, the PSG-OM match will be held again, and 1000 riot police will be on hand to try to limit the damage.

All this to say... when the fuck will the State ban football matches, or at least make the instigators of this violence (the football clubs and their Federation) pay for the damage caused?

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