Paris Saint-Germain F.C. supporters
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Paris Saint-Germain Football Club (PSG) is the most popular football club in France with 22% of fans identifying as Parisians. Le Classique arch-rivals Olympique de Marseille come second with 20%, while Olympique Lyonnais is third with 14%. PSG is also one of the most widely supported teams in the world with 35 million supporters worldwide, more than any other French club. Famous PSG fans include former French President Nicolas Sarkozy and NBA player Tony Parker.
Since the mid-1980s, PSG supporters' groups have been linked to football hooliganism. In 1976, PSG did not have a big passionate fanbase, so the club began offering cheaper season tickets to young supporters. PSG placed these new fans in the club's first fan space at Parc des Princes, the Kop K, located in the K section of the Borelli stand. Following an increase in ticket prices, Kop K supporters moved to the Boulogne stand in 1978, and the Kop of Boulogne (KoB) was born. There, the club's first Italian-style ultra group, Boulogne Boys, was founded in 1985. Other KoB groups, however, took British hooligans as dubious role models and violence rapidly escalated.
PSG owners Canal+ responded in 1991 by encouraging and financing non-violent fans of the KoB stand to take place in the Auteuil stand at the other end of Parc des Princes. The Virage Auteuil (VA) was born, alongside Supras Auteuil, its most notorious ultras. At first the measure worked but, slowly, a violent rivalry arose between the two stands. Things came to a head in 2010 after Marseille beat PSG 3–0 in Paris. Boulogne fan Yann Lorence was killed following a fight between groups from both stands, forcing PSG president Robin Leproux to take action.
All season tickets were revoked and all supporters' groups were dissolved in what was known as Plan Leproux. It made PSG pay the price in terms of atmosphere, with one of Europe's most feared venues now subdued. For their part, PSG supporters formed the Collectif Ultras Paris (CUP) with the aim of reclaiming their place at the stadium. In 2016, the club agreed to their return, and the CUP have since been regrouped in the Auteuil stand. A year later, PSG allowed them to hold season tickets together again.
- 1 History
- 1.1 Early years
- 1.2 Kop of Boulogne
- 1.3 Virage Auteuil
- 1.4 Boulogne and Auteuil war
- 1.5 Plan Leproux
- 1.6 Collectif Ultras Paris
- 2 Supporters' groups
- 3 Friendships with other clubs
- 4 Fan favorites
- 5 From heroes to villains
- 6 PSG Fan Clubs
- 7 Famous fans
- 8 References
- 9 External links
Le Club des Associés
During their first three years of existence, Paris Saint-Germain was fan-owned and had 14,820 socios (associates, supporters, shareholders), who paid an annual fee of about 25 to 40 francs (4 to 6 euros). The socios were the club's first supporters. As such, they founded Le Club des Associés (The Club of Socios) to organize their travels for PSG home and away matches. It was PSG and France's first supporters' group. PSG played their first match ever on August 1, 1970. It was a friendly against Quevilly (1–2 loss) at the Stade Jean-Bouin in Paris, and more than 2,000 fans from Le Club des Associés attended.
In October 1970, after PSG's 2–1 win over Brest in the 1970–71 French Division 2, players from the visiting team complained about the hostile and intimidating atmosphere produced by the home supporters. The Parisian players were delighted, though. PSG defender Roland Mitoraj told to reporters in February 1971 that he had never experienced this kind of support when he played for Saint-Étienne. In May 1971, for the decisive top-of-the-table clash against Rouen, 5,000 socios travelled to Normandy.
The following season, the club's first in Ligue 1, PSG faced Lille in January 1972 as both sides battled to avoid relegation. In this context, Le Club des Associés launched the "Operation 1,000 in Lille" and managed to rally 1,200 socios to the northern city. During the match, in front of the 10,000 Lille fans in attendance, they unfurled a banner that read "PSG salutes Lille! Long live football and may the best one win!" The capital club would win the game 3–1. But the team's on-pitch success contrasted with its off-pitch woes. As the club split at the end of the season, an overwhelming majority of socios preferred to support Paris FC in Ligue 1 rather than PSG, which were administratively demoted to Division 3. In consequence, Le Club des Associés ceased to exist as well.
Parc des Princes and Amis du PSG
Paris Saint-Germain still had some supporters, though. In January 1973, they surprised PSG players with streamers and trumpets during their French Cup match against Rouen in Mantes. This would be the curtain-raiser for their Parc des Princes debut. On November 10, 1973, the capital club played their first match there against Ligue 2 promotion rivals Red Star. They won 3–1 as Othniel Dossevi scored the club's first goal at the stadium. Before kickoff, the team warmed up in front of the Boulogne stand. It was the beginning of a tradition that still stands today. With the transformation of Auteuil into a second stand reserved for PSG fans in 1991, players have warmed up there too.
PSG returned to Ligue 1 in 1974, immediately moving into Parc des Princes as Paris FC had been relegated that same year. The club welcomed Metz for its maiden home match in the top-flight in August 1974. In front of 14,000 spectators, PSG recorded a 2–2 draw in their Parc des Princes debut as François M'Pelé scored the team's first Ligue 1 goal at the stadium. The club's oldest active supporters' group, Amis du PSG (Friends of PSG), was founded in January 1975. Its members settled in the Paris stand with a banner: "The Spirit Club."
Kop of Boulogne
English casual culture
Back then, the majority of people attending Parc des Princes were casual spectators or away supporters, and the stadium was only full when Paris faced more prestigious sides like Saint-Étienne, Nantes Olympique de Marseille or Stade de Reims. So the club put in place an attractive subscription plan called Young PSG Supporters in 1976. For an annual fee of only 10 francs (1,50 euro), young fans would receive free tickets for ten league games as well as stickers and photos of the club.
|“||"The visiting team had just scored a goal. While the Parisian team slowly walked to the middle of the field — a very painful moment for the players — the fans in the Kop of Boulogne cheered and waved flags with the colors of the club, as if it had been PSG who had just scored! The spectators had become supporters."||”|
|— Club statement during the 1978–79 season.|
Young PSG Supporters subscribers were placed by the club in the K section of the Borelli stand that same year, in what was the first fan-dedicated space at Parc des Princes. They named this section the Kop K in reference of the famous Spion Kop stand in Anfield that groups the supporters of Liverpool.
The first 500 subscribers debuted at Parc des Princes during PSG's league tie against Reims in September 1976, and reached the 3,000 members in early 1977. During the 1976–77 season, the stadium averaged 22,400 spectators, ranking ahead of much bigger teams. In 1978, following an increase in ticket prices in the K section, the club allowed Kop K supporters to move to the Boulogne stand, and the Kop K became the Kop of Boulogne (KoB). PSG players had been warming up there since 1973, so the supporters were logically invested in being closer to their idols. In 1981, for the first time, the whole stadium cheered for PSG during their 5–3 win over Nantes in the Coupe de France, chanting "Paris, Paris, Paris."
Most of the kobistes (as KoB supporters were called) were poor disaffected white men who made the Kop of Boulogne their meeting point thank to its low admission fees. And some of them were influenced by English casual culture, typified by hooliganism and the wearing of expensive designer clothing, and exported by Liverpool fans in the late 1970s and early 1980s. As a result, the Boulogne stand soon developed into the home of French hooliganism. Rival fans, who had until that point sat in Boulogne, were moved across the field to the Auteuil stand. This prompted KoB hooligans to form away parties that sneaked through the stands and attacked the visitors.
Boulogne Boys and other groups
United under a bulldog's head on top of the France flag, the Kop of Boulogne was mainly composed of three types of fans: Italian-style ultra groups (e.g. Boulogne Boys and Tifo e Stupido); English-inspired kopistes (e.g. Rangers and Gavroches); and hooligan firms influenced by casual culture (e.g. Commando Pirate, Army Korps, Fire Birds, Pitbull Kop, Casual Firm, Indépendants Boulogne Rouge, Commando Loubard and Milice Paris).
Founded in 1985, Boulogne Boys was the KoB's first supporters' group. It was also PSG's first ultra group and one of the oldest of its kind in France, alongside Marseille's Commando Ultra (1984) and Nice's Brigade Sud (1985). The group's distinctive trait was welcoming the players' entrance to the pitch with tifo choreography, which included flares, flags, banners and chants. Despite being Boulogne's most high-profile group, its style did not fit the image of the stand, being more eye-catching and less confrontational. Nonetheless, Boys was the stand's biggest animators. Furthermore, they were also a controlling force and a mediator in the stand, and had an unpolitical stance in the highly-politicized Boulogne.
Members of Boulogne Boys left the group in 1986 and created Gavroches that same year, without disturbing the cohesion of the stand. Gavroches and Rangers were real English kopistes, with sheer vocal volume and scarf-waving as their chief medium for support. They would mainly make use of flags, flares and chants like "The Parc with us," which were battle cries to intimidate the visiting teams and its supporters. If they prepared tifos from time to time, they preferred to use their money to help a member in trouble with justice.
Hooliganism and racism
The first hooligan incidents from PSG fans took place in January 1977 during an away game against Nancy. Between 1977 and 1983, they also clashed with fans from Bastia, Auxerre, Rennes and Tours. In October 1983, Paris Saint-Germain welcomed Juventus in the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup. During the match, hundreds of hooligans invaded the away stand in Auteuil, violently attacking the Italian ultras. PSG and Juventus fans brawled again in 1989 and 1993.
In February 1984, PSG and English hooligans clashed on the stands of Parc des Princes during an international match between France and England, leaving dozens injured. The club's first hooligan firm, Commando Pirate, was founded in 1986, followed by Fire Birds later that same year.
Infiltrated by far-right extremists since the mid-1980s, the Kop of Boulogne became overtly racist in 1989 with the creation of hooligan firm Pitbull Kop by Serge Ayoub. He was the leader of French far-right association Revolutionary Nationalist Youth (JNR), which advocated violence and white supremacy; and Pitbull Kop served as a showcase for the JNR to recruit new members. As a result, the KoB rapidly turned into a white-only stand with racist chants (such as "France for the French"), signs, and Nazi salutes as regular features.
In 1991, Army Korps was founded and they would partake in one of French football's darkest moments two years later. In August 1993, during a match against Caen, ten officers of the feared CRS riot police were injured by PSG hooligans. The brawl began when the CRS entered Boulogne to arrest a fan. Once inside, they were attacked by KoB hooligans. Outnumbered, the policemen retreated, but one of them got left behind. The hooligans swarmed over the isolated CRS officer and kicked him in to a coma. He eventually recovered. Sports minister Michèle Alliot-Marie reacted by dissolving Commando Pirate, Army Korps and Fire Birds between 1993 and 1994.
Casual Firm and Indépendants Boulogne Rouge quickly filled the void left by them in December 1993. They were behind most of the major incidents involving PSG during the 1990s. Locally, PSG hooligans clashed with Saint-Étienne, Nantes, Lyon, Nice and hated southern rival Marseille. In 1995, fighting during the French Cup semifinals between PSG and l'OM hooligans resulted in 146 arrests and nine policemen hospitalized.
PSG's progress in European competition saw even more vicious fighting. Between 1993 and 2004, the Parisian hooligans fought with opposing thugs from Arsenal, Anderlecht, Juventus, Bayern Munich, Rangers, Liverpool, Galatasaray and CSKA Moscow. But it was their attack on Chelsea hooligan firm Chelsea Headhunters in Paris in September 2004 that earned PSG hooligans high praise on web sites dedicated to football violence. Even though Indépendants Boulogne Rouge self-dissolved in 2000, Casual Firm carried on and were later joined by Commando Loubard in 2003 and Milice Paris in 2006.
Italian ultra culture
At the beginning of the 1990s, PSG was enjoying their worst attendance record since reaching Ligue 1 in 1974. The violence and racism in the Kop of Boulogne took the blame for this situation. To give non-violent and non-racist supporters in the KoB an alternative, as well as boost the attendance levels, new owners Canal+ backed the creation of the Auteuil stand in 1991. Founded that same year, and financed by the club, Supras Auteuil and Lutèce Falco were the first ultra groups of the new stand. They were soon joined by peaceful-turned-violent group Tigris Mystic in 1993. The measure worked; violence bottomed, while attendance steadily grew, peaking in 2000.
But even though Auteuil was a way for the club to fight against racism, it proved to be a mistake in the long run. Rather that kick out the racists, the club just tacitly accepted that Boulogne was a white-only stand, preferring to move members of ethnic minorities to the Auteuil stand, located opposite to the KoB. Auteuil ultras were racially mixed, largely left-wing, anti-racist and represented Parisian diversity with immigrants or sons of immigrants.
In contrast to the English-inspired KoB, the Auteuil stand modelled after the Italian ultra culture. Its ultras (as Auteuil supporters were called) made use of banners, flares, chants and other expressions of tifo, which means organized and choreographed support of the team. Symbolically, they referred to the stand as Virage Auteuil. "Virage" is the French equivalent for the Italian word "curva." Supras Auteuil, the stand's biggest group, summed up this philosophy; Supras is the contraction of "SUPporters" and "ultRAS."
Virage Auteuil gradually became a solid reference within the Panorama Ultra Français (French Ultra Panorama or PUF). In April 1995, PSG met A.C. Milan at Parc des Princes in the first leg of the UEFA Champions League semifinals. Before kickoff, the Auteuil stand welcomed their players by unveiling a spectacular tifo, which was voted the "Best European Tifo" of the 1994–95 season by the Torcida International Fans Organization (TIFO).
The tifo against Steaua Bucharest in August 1997 was also a big landmark for Auteuil, which had superseded the less visually impressive and more violent Boulogne stand. Nonetheless, Auteuil was not exempt from hooligan incidents, the first of which took place just a year after its foundation. But unlike their politicized peers in Boulogne, Auteuil hooligans started off as purists of urban violence, which they practiced without ideological considerations. Simply put, they were initially apolitical.
Prior to their UEFA Cup third round match in November 1992 at Parc des Princes, PSG and Anderlecht supporters were twinned and would fight together against other fans since the early 1980s. Anderlecht ultras O'Side would occasionally lend a hand to the Parisian supporters during away matches against Lille, while members from KoB hooligan group Commando Pirate would return the favor in Belgium. With fans of the newly-created Auteuil stand, however, things were different.
The pre-match brawl began when O'Side hooligans attacked Auteuil supporters. Hundreds of hooligans from KoB groups Commando Pirate and Army Korps came to help Auteuil, severely injuring two Anderlecht fans. During the game, seats flew between the visitors and Auteuil residents as the police had to enter the stands and restore calm. And at the final whistle, KoB hooligans clashed with the police and the Belgian ultras until late at night.
In March 2001, violence flared again at Virage Auteuil. Already eliminated from the UEFA Champions League, PSG hosted Galatasaray for the last match of the group stage. But between the fans there were things yet to be settled. Galatasaray supporters tried to steal the banner of Supras Auteuil and triggered hostilities, with seats being ripped out and thrown between the Turkish section and Auteuil. Auteuil ultras then invaded the away stand and the fight escalated, while KoB hooligans chanted "Auteuil, kill them! Auteuil, kill them!" to encourage them.
Many Boulogne hooligans even left their stand to go help their Auteuil counterparts at a time when the two stands were still on good terms. More than fifty Turks finished the evening in the hospital. Several supporters were banned from the stadium for life and eight were sent to prison, while PSG was ordered to play two home games away at Toulouse. In a way, this was payback for the 1996 incidents between the KoB and Galatasaray hooligans, during which the Turkish seriously injured a handful of PSG fans.
Boulogne and Auteuil war
The second enfant terrible of PSG grew in the shadow of the Kop of Boulogne. Both stands competed for visual and vocal dominance, but Auteuil never questioned the authority of Boulogne. As a result, these two fan scenes, with their radically different racial composition and political views coexisted in relative peace during the 1990s and early 2000s. Auteuil and Boulogne even began exchanging chants and slogans in 1997, becoming a trademark of PSG games at Parc des Princes.
It all changed in March 2003, when Tigris Mystic celebrated their 10th anniversary with a banner that read "The Future Belongs to Us." Subtly aimed at Boulogne, this message was a war declaration for KoB hooligans: Auteuil was the future, while Boulogne was the past. The power struggle that opposed PSG's first historical supporters of Boulogne against the newer ultras of Auteuil was just a cover for the real problem: the racial tension which had existed between the stands for many years.
Suddenly, the clashes outside the Parc des Princes were largely between hooligans of the same team, unlike anywhere else in Europe. One side of the ring featured Boulogne racist hooligan firms Casual Firm, Commando Loubard and Milice Paris whose members were far-right, white supremacists looking to "rid the suburbs of blacks and Arabs." The other side featured Auteuil multiethnic group Tigris Mystic, whose initially peaceful anti-racist and left-wing ultras then chose to fight back with the same aggressive approach as the few hundred racist fans at the Boulogne end.
Self-dissolution of Tigris Mystic
Tigris Mystic began to gain momentum at the start of the 2000s and chose to become violent, clashing with hooligans from other teams and then against those from the Kop of Boulogne after the banner incident. The first skirmishes between Auteuil and Boulogne took place right after the banner, but were cut short by a short-lived truce to fight against the new security policy of the club in 2004.
Jean-Pierre Larrue, PSG's head of security, was determined to clear the Parc des Princes of hooligans and racists. But fans menaced mayhem and even sent death threats to PSG president Francis Graille. He eventually lost the backing of his bosses, who decided to pull the plug on the security plan and fired Larrue. The conflict resumed immediately afterwards and incidents occurred wherever PSG played during the 2005–06 season.
In October 2005, Casual Firm hooligans thrashed the headquarters of Tigris Mystic, to which the latter responded by attacking a group of Boulogne hooligans in February 2006. Racism in the Kop of Boulogne had become intolerable that campaign and other Virage Auteuil ultras began to denounce it, vocally following Tigris Mystic when they sang "La Marseillaise" while brandishing their French identity card. In spite of this, the stand did not support the violent actions of Tigris members, which by then had brought them into conflict not only with KoB hooligans but also with big ultra groups Boulogne Boys and Supras Auteuil, and even with Auteuil hooligans Karsud, who had close ties with their far-right peers in Boulogne. And, since the club directors were scarcely supportive as well, Tigris Mystic decided to self-dissolve in July 2006 after several months of violent incidents.
Death of Julien Quemener
With the disbanding of Tigris Mystic, PSG officials thought that peace would finally return. The reality, however, was that revenge and hatred had taken over the stadium; Boulogne and Auteuil could no longer stand each other. Tigris was gone but other Auteuil supporters had become violent as well, while racism in the KoB was out of control. In November 2006, a few months after Canal+ sold the club to Colony Capital, things really began to fall apart. First, six Boulogne thugs attacked a man of Senegalese origin after a match at Le Mans, with two of the assailants receiving prison sentences. And then a PSG fan was killed.
After a 4–2 humiliating loss in the UEFA Cup to Israeli club Hapoel Tel Aviv at Parc des Princes, PSG hooligans took the streets and targeted Jewish fans. A French-Jewish supporter of Hapoel, Yaniv Hazout, was surrounded and threatened, when a plain-clothes black police officer, Antoine Granomort, stepped in to help him. Granomort was not wearing a police uniform and PSG radicals attacked him. He tried to break up the group with tear gas but was overpowered. Granomort then fired one shot, seriously injuring Mounir Boujaer before killing Julien Quemener.
This episode shocked France. It was only the second fan-related death in the country after that of 1984 when a supporter was killed by a flare. Immediately after, public opinion blamed the KoB, known for its racist and violent fans since the late 1970s. But PSG supporters and French fans in general considered Quemener a martyr and demanded an inquiry. Prior to PSG's match at Nantes three days after the incident, Boulogne Boys paid their respects to Quemener by marching through the city to the stadium.
Initially, police said Julien Quemener was a member of Boulogne Boys and that this group had links to PSG's violent far-right fans in the KoB. Boys quickly denied the allegations. Later developments in the investigation showed that Quemener was close to Boulogne hooligan firms (Casual Firm, Commando Loubard and Milice Paris) and not Boulogne Boys. In February 2011, after more than four years of investigation, Antoine Granomort was acquitted of murder on the grounds of self-defence.
Dissolution of Boulogne Boys
Following Julien Quemener's death, more strict security measures were implemented, including stadium bans and police controls on matchdays for merely knowing, or standing next to a hooligan. Meetings were also held before each match between the police and the leaders of the supporters' groups. This measures led to a relative cease of fire between the two stands of the Parc des Princes. They even fought together against Twente and Marseille hooligans in December 2008 and October 2009, respectively.
Tensions, however, were slowly mounting again in the background. Supras Auteuil subgroup K-Soce Team was born in 2007. Brandishing flags of Algeria and Palestine, they embodied the growing politicization and left-wing radicalization of the Auteuil stand, antagonizing with that of Boulogne. Like Tigris Mystic before them, K-Soce's fighting spirit against the racism in the stadium soon led them to clash with the KoB hooligans. And then Boulogne Boys outraged France.
During the Coupe de la Ligue final in March 2008, they unfurled a banner which referred to Lens fans as incestuous, jobless pedophiles. Although the banner was certainly offensive, its timing was even worse. Recently-elected French President Nicolas Sarkozy was in attendance that evening. Sarkozy had promised back in 2006 that, if he won the elections, he would rid PSG of racists and hooligans. Sadly for Boulogne Boys, they gave him the perfect excuse to start.
This banner led to the dissolution of Boulogne Boys in April 2008. It was the end of one of the most legendary supporters' group in France. Coincidentally, the announcement was made by interior ministry Michèle Alliot-Marie, who had dissolved PSG hooligan firms Commando Pirate, Army Korps and Fire Birds in the 1990s when she was sports minister. Politicians welcomed this measure, believing it would appease the stands. But it only made the situation worse, plunging into further chaos an already unstable and uncontrollable Kop of Boulogne.
Death of Yann Lorence
With Boulogne Boys gone, the club lost a mediator between Boulogne and Auteuil, as well as a controlling force over Casual Firm, Commando Loubard and Milice Paris hooligans, who had undermined the authority of the remaining seasoned groups from the KoB. In December 2009, hostilities reignited in an away match at Bordeaux, when a Boulogne member exhibited a flag with a Celtic cross while surrounded by Auteuil fans, who then attacked him. The latter turned out to be an influential figure in the KoB and promised revenge on Auteuil. In January 2010, Auteuil ultras, especially members of Supras Auteuil, were attacked by Boulogne hooligans in Lille. Days later, during the next match against Monaco at Parc des Princes, Boulogne mocked Supras Auteuil by chanting "Supras, Supras, we fucked you."
But unlike Tigris Mystic in 2006, Supras Auteuil was not isolated. They had the support of K-Soce Team, La Grinta, Lutèce Falco and Authentiks. In February 2010, during PSG's 3–0 home defeat to Marseille, the conflict reached a point of no return. Two hours before kickoff, a large group of Boulogne hooligans attacked supporters from Auteuil, chasing them toward their entrance into the stadium, all under the eyes of CRS riot police officers, who did not intervene. Alerted by the situation, many Auteuil fans who were already inside the stadium left the stand to lead a counter charge, which ended in the lynching of Casual Firm member Yann Lorence.
The original reports from the press claimed that Yann Lorence was peacefully leaving a bar when he was attacked by Auteuil fans, while PSG president Robin Leproux said that he had been caught in the middle of the brawl. Boulogne sources defended this theories, saying Lorence had distanced himself from Casual Firm a while back. Auteuil sources, on the other hand, affirmed he was indeed part of the fight. Whatever the case, Lorence died of his injuries in March 2010, and two men, Jeremy Banh and Romain Lafon, were subsequently charged with involuntary homicide. Lafon denied his involvement in the incident, whereas Banh admitted in police questioning kicking the victim before withdrawing from the fight. In November 2016, Banh was convicted of killing Lorence and received a five-year jail term, while Lafon was acquitted.
Dissolution of Supras Auteuil
Though Lorence's death was not the first Parisian casualty, it was the first time that a PSG fan had been killed by another PSG supporter. The club immediately reacted by banning all its fans from travelling to away games. In April 2010, the French government dissolved five PSG supporters' groups: Commando Loubard and Milice Paris of Boulogne, Supras Auteuil and La Grinta of Auteuil, and Authentiks of the Paris stand. Fan groups from other teams suffered the same fate, including Metz's Faction, Lyon's Cosa Nostra and Nice's Brigade Sud. Those opposed to the dissolutions claimed that they only deprived the supporters of official status, while making more difficult to monitor them; and that nothing stopped them setting up under a new name. In fact, members of former Boulogne and Auteuil groups have continued to fight over the years.
Under pressure from the government and the media, PSG president Robin Leproux began to work on an anti-violence plan called Tous PSG (All PSG) in May 2010. It became known as Plan Leproux. Details of the plan to cancel all season tickets in Boulogne and Auteuil leaked to the press. Auteuil groups Lutèce Falco, Kriek and Karsud organized peaceful march in response to the leaks. On May 15, 2010, around 1,000 supporters descended on Parc des Princes before PSG's last match of the 2009–10 season against Montpellier that same day.
During the game, groups from Auteuil and Boulogne displayed one last act of defiance, throwing hundreds of red distress flares to the pitch, forcing play had to be halted for several minutes. Lutèce Falco also unfurled a banner which simply stated "This Is The End." For eleven of these groups this was their last appearance at the stadium as they decided to self-dissolve afterwards due to intense repression and media persecution: Gavroches, Layache, Paris Assas Club, Rangers, Section Cigogne and Tifo e Stupido from Boulogne; Kriek, Lutèce Falco and Titans from Auteuil; Puissance Paris from the Paris stand; and Brigade Paris from the Borelli stand.
Plan Leproux was announced later that week. It marked the end of the 13,000 supporters grouped in Auteuil and Boulogne, of which only 50 to 400 were hooligans. The plan also introduced random seating and ID cards for supporters, raised ticket prices, dissolved loyalty discounts, allowed women to attend for free, created sections for family and kids, and regulated away days so that the bus ride and match ticket were controlled by the club. It made PSG and Parc des Princes pay the price in terms of atmosphere, with one of Europe's most feared venues now subdued.
Liberté Pour les Abonnés
Right after the introduction of Plan Leproux, many of the supporters who were frozen out by the club formed a group called Liberté Pour les Abonnés (Freedom for Season Ticket Holders) and boycotted matches until they could again choose where to sit. The club, meanwhile, continued its pre-season reformation of Auteuil and Boulogne, removing murals and commemorative plaques dedicated to supporters' groups as well as deceased members.
The transition was not smooth. 22,689 spectators showed up for PSG's first match of the 2010–11 season, and attendance remained low. By January 2011, season tickets were back and PSG allowed supporters' groups in the stands again, as long as they signed the Charte 12, a list of strict rules and regulations for the returning kobistes and ultras. The first group to agree to Charte 12 was Hoolicool, followed by Titi-Fosi and Vikings 27, non of which were located in Auteuil or Boulogne. The club also partnered with anti-racism organization SOS Racisme to help run security at matches and keep track of any racist behaviour.
In May 2011, ahead of the 2011–12 season, the State of Qatar bought PSG through its shareholding organization Qatar Sports Investments (QSI). Attendance levels soared thanks to big-money signings like Javier Pastore and a promising UEFA Champions League project to make PSG a big European team. Liberté Pour les Abonnés welcomed the Qatari owners and their efforts, but maintained that a big club was nothing without a big public. As soon as they arrived, however, QSI further developed Plan Leproux by elaborating a blacklist of PSG supporters banned from the club's games as soon as they arrived. Considered illegal by the National Commission on Informatics and Liberty, the French government still validated the controversial document in April 2015. The police and all French clubs, have access to the list for them to prevent these fans from purchasing tickets for PSG home or away matches.
Women and ultras
Between 2010 and 2016, with the impossibility for fan groups to support the men's team at home or away, the PSG faithful turned to Paris Saint-Germain Féminine, and to a lesser extent to the Paris Saint-Germain Youth Academy sides, being the very rare case of fan groups supporting their club's women's team. Liberté Pour les Abonnés and Nautecia, which were among several groups that reunited Boulogne and Auteuil supporters, were behind this initiative. PSG ultras have also occasionally attended big matches of the club's handball team, Paris Saint-Germain Handball, ever since it was bought by PSG owners Qatar Sports Investments (QSI) in 2012.
|“||"With our return to the men's team's matches, we must admit that we now have less time to go encourage the women. But we're not going to let them down because of this. It's nice to show them that we have not forgotten them."||”|
|— Axel, spokesman of Nautecia, in March 2017.|
In 2010, unlike some fans who decided to cheer for other Parisian clubs such as Paris FC or Créteil, these two groups noticed there was not much enthusiasm around the women and chose to stay with PSG by supporting them in France and abroad, from league clashes against rivals Olympique Lyonnais to the 2015 UEFA Women's Champions League Final in Berlin.
A marriage of convenience at first, the ultras began to really enjoy supporting the women for three main reasons: their proximity compared to the men, being able to easily approach female players; their appreciation for the fans, always thanking them after every match; and their solidarity with the ultra movement, publicly supporting a return to the Parc des Princes for men's team games in interviews and social media, in contrast to male players whose communication was more controlled by the club.
Even after being allowed back into the stadium in 2016, they have continued to support the women under the banner of Collectif Ultras Paris (CUP). In March 2017, they attended the Champions League quarterfinals return game against Bayern Munich at the Parc des Princes. They were also part of the record 19,192 spectators in attendance for the semifinals against Barcelona the following month. Later that same season, 300 PSG ultras cheered the team during the 2017 UEFA Women's Champions League Final against Lyon in Cardiff in June 2017.
Collectif Ultras Paris
In early October 2016, after a six-year absence, the club and the CUP first agreed a Parc des Princes return for PSG's 2–0 home win over Bordeaux. The ultras have since been regrouped in the Auteuil end of the stadium. In April 2017, PSG's ultras reportedly damaged areas of Lyon's Parc OL during the 2017 Coupe de la Ligue Final against Monaco. As a result, the French Football League (LFP) hit PSG with a €100,000 fine. In May 2017, PSG supporter groups Lista Nera Paris and Microbes Paris left the CUP. Additionally, the CUP dismissed the Karsud group from its ranks. The groups left in the CUP are the K-Soce Team, Liberte pour les Abonnes, Le Combat Continue, Le Parias and Nautecia. In August 2017, PSG and the CUP reached an agreement to allow the club's Ultras to hold season tickets together in the Auteuil end for the first time since 2010.
The Parc des Princes has been the home stadium of Paris Saint-Germain since 1974. The pitch of the stadium is surrounded by four covered all-seater stands, officially known as Tribune Borelli, Tribune Auteuil, Tribune Paris and Tribune Boulogne. Historically, PSG's most hardcore fans have occupied the Auteuil and Boulogne stands. Boulogne Boys, Supras Auteuil and the Collectif Ultras Paris (CUP) have been the club's most famous supporters' groups.
- As of the 2019–20 season.
- As of the 2019–20 season.
Friendships with other clubs
Despite their extensive history of hooliganism, Paris Saint-Germain supporters' groups have good relationships or twinnings with several fan associations from other clubs. However, due to the never-ending violent rivalry between PSG fan groups from Kop of Boulogne and Virage Auteuil, as well as the recent enmity between the Collectif Ultras Paris (CUP) and Karsud, twinned supporters have often chose sides in these conflicts. The relationships with Napoli, Hellas Verona and Red Star Belgrade are the perfect examples of this.
Former Boulogne far-right groups are twinned with the ultras of Hellas Verona, while the CUP created a twinning with Napoli's Curva B tifosi in 2017. Both sets of Italian fans do not get along, though. So, after Napoli defeated Hellas in Verona in August 2017, the Hellas Verona ultras — alongside PSG, Lazio and Kaiserslautern hooligans — organized an assault against Napoli's Curva B supporters, their common enemy. Only the work of police forces managed to thwart the aggression.
Far-right groups from Metz and hooligan firms from Toulouse (Viola Front, Gitania Tolosa, Camside) are also twinned with now-dissolved KoB associations. Dissolved Boulogne hooligan firm Commando Pirate had a twinning with Anderlecht ultras O'Side from the early 1980s until November 1992, when the Belgians attacked Auteuil fans before a UEFA Cup game between PSG and Anderlecht in Paris. At the time, Boulogne and Auteuil were on good terms.
Red Star ultras Delije, for their part, are twinned with Auteuil hooligan firm Karsud as well as former far-right Boulogne hooligan groups. Karsud's link with Delije comes from the fact that some of their leaders have Serbian origin, and they frequently display Serbian flags during PSG games. In October 2018, after the UEFA Champions League group stage match between Red Star Belgrade and Paris Saint-Germain in Belgrade, Delije hooligans assaulted members of the Collectif Ultras Paris. The reason behind the attack was that Karsud has been in conflict with the CUP ever since they were expelled from it in May 2017.
Celtic and Liverpool
Though never on the same page, Celtic and Liverpool fans were the only two exceptions in which both Auteuil and Boulogne agreed to fraternize with the same rival supporters. Such scenes happened for the first time with the Scottish fans in October 1995, when Celtic visited the Parc des Princes for the second round of the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup. As Queen's "We Will Rock You" began to sound during the warm-up, Auteuil ultras welcomed Celtic group Bhoys with their own version of the song, "We Will Fuck You." The match finished with a victory for PSG and, as their fans began to mock Bhoys for the defeat, the latter turned to the Auteuil stand and started to applaud them. Auteuil responded by chanting "Celtic ! Celtic !" during several minutes.
|“||"Congratulate PSG fans for the way they supported their team, and for the wonderful sound they caused. They also showed how much they appreciate Liverpool. Red All Over the Land considers that they have been magnificent."||”|
|— John Pearman to L'Équipe in September 2018.|
In September 2017, the two teams met again in the group stages of the UEFA Champions League and Celtic fans paid tribute to their Parisian counterparts with a spectacular tifo at Celtic Park. And even after Celtic's heaviest home defeat in 122 years (5–0), both fan groups came together at the end to applaud each other. Once again, PSG fans (now grouped as the CUP) chanted Celtic's name as the Scottish supporters saluted them. Scarfs were also exchanged between both ends.
The return leg in Paris was no different, with Celtic and PSG fans playing football under the Eiffel Tower before kickoff. PSG supporters then returned the favor at Parc des Princes with a giant banner written in French with the message “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” in homage to Celtic's eponymous club anthem. Fans swapped scarves after the game as well.
When Liverpool played PSG in the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup semifinals at Parc des Princes in April 1997, Boulogne and Auteuil were once again in communion. The Virage Auteuil stand presented a banner that read “Welcome to the Legendary Fans” and Liverpool's hymn “You'll Never Walk Alone” was respected by Auteuil and Boulogne fans when their English counterparts sang it during the game. For PSG fans, especially those in the Kop of Boulogne, this double confrontation had a particular flavor. Back in 1978, PSG supporters created the Kop of Boulogne stand in tribute to the famous Spion Kop stand in Anfield that groups Liverpool ultras.
PSG and Liverpool faced each other again in Anfield for the group stages of the UEFA Champions League in September 2018. Known for its intimidating atmosphere and noisy supporters, Anfield welcomed 2,500 Parisian ultras from the CUP who, according to the press and surprised Liverpool fans present, were able to make themselves heard and sometimes even more than the 50,000 supporters of the Reds. After the final whistle, the Liverpool faithful greeted their counterparts with a warm applause. John Pearman, manager of Liverpool fanzine Red All Over the Land, even sent an email to L'Équipe asking them to congratulate PSG fans.
Auteuil and CUP twinnings
Historically, the former groups of Auteuil and currently the subgroups of the Collectif Ultras Paris (grouped in the Auteuil stand as well) have been less confrontational than Boulogne supporters. As a result, they have fraternized with more fans from rival teams than their KoB counterparts. In fact, every major group in Auteuil (Supras Auteuil, Lutèce Falco and Tigris Mystic), as well as ally association Authentiks from the nearby Paris stand, had twinnings with supporters from other clubs.
In 2003, Supras Auteuil twinned with Köln ultra group Wilde Horde 96. Even after the dissolution of Supras in 2010, the Germans have continued to pay tribute to this PSG ultra group. In October 2018, during a Köln home match, they unfurled a banner that read “25 years of ultra mentality” in celebration of the 25th anniversary of Supras Auteuil, founded in 1991. Likewise, Authentiks was twinned with supporters of Danish club Copenhagen during the 2000s, while Lutèce Falco, through its subgroup Irish Clan, had a friendship with fans of Irish team Derry City, whom PSG met in the first round of the UEFA Cup in September 2006. Irish Clan members were also close to Celtic supporters.
Finally, Tigris Mystic twinned with Toulon's Irréductibles in 2001 driven by their reciprocal hatred towards Olympique de Marseille. Both groups assisted to matches together in the past, including one against Toulouse in 2005 where the Irréductibles even unfurled their own banner in Auteuil. This twinning was continued by the CUP. In February 2019, Irréductibles members attended PSG's home match against Nîmes and unfurled a banner in honor of the once-banned PSG fans, who responded with a warm applause and a song dedicated to the glory of Toulon.
In 2012, members of PSG's K-Soce Team — now the leading subgroup in the CUP — met a Brazilian who was part of Fluminense's ultra group Sobranada 1902. This torcedor lived in Paris between 2012 and 2013 while studying for a PhD, and traveled with the Parisian ultras to several games. In March 2017, Sobranada 1902 and Young Flu (another Fluminense ultra group) welcomed the K-Soce Team ultras who traveled to Rio de Janeiro. Both sets of supporters attended Fluminense's win over arch-rivals Flamengo in the Taça Guanabara final. In September 2018, Sobranada 1902 and Young Flu affiliates attended PSG's UEFA Champions League match against Liverpool in England with K-Soce Team.
K-Soce Team also created a twinning with Napoli since 2017, when the group's leader — who has roots in Calabria and whose father was a big Napoli fan — contacted the Curva B tifosi. In May 2017, K-Soce Team members attended the famous Curva B of Stadio San Paolo to watch Napoli's league win over Cagliari. A few months later, the Curva B faithful visited Parc des Princes to celebrate the 10 years of K-Soce Team during PSG's league victory over Nice in October 2017. The Parisian fans even allowed Curva B to deploy their own banner. In October 2018, K-Soce Team and Curva B joined together in the streets of Paris before their teams' Champions League clash and marched to Parc des Princes while chanting and lighting flares. As in the French capital in the first leg, both fan groups made a common procession to reach the San Paolo in Naples in November 2018.
From Dogliani to Cavani
Since 1970, Paris Saint-Germain supporters have seen many great players who have lastingly marked the club's history. And most of them have become fan favorites, including Jean-Pierre Dogliani, Jean Djorkaeff, François M'Pelé and Carlos Bianchi in the 1970s; Safet Sušić, Dominique Bathenay, Mustapha Dahleb, Dominique Rocheteau, Jean-Marc Pilorget and Joël Bats in the 1980s; Bernard Lama, Youri Djorkaeff, David Ginola, George Weah, Valdo and Raí in the 1990s; or, more recently, Pauleta, Javier Pastore, Marco Verratti, Thiago Silva, Zlatan Ibrahimović and Edinson Cavani. PSG fans have paid tribute to many of these players with a warm farewell during their respective last matches at Parc des Princes, or with murals around the stadium.
Other players have also remained in the memory of PSG supporters thanks to their showmanship or talent. This is the case of Marco Simone, Jay-Jay Okocha, Ronaldinho, Nenê or even Mikel Arteta, who are still today considered as darlings of the stands despite not staying long at the club or leaving without winning any major title. Okocha, Ronaldinho and Nenê are mostly remembered for their dribbling and fantastic goals, while Simone and Arteta delighted PSG fans with their goalscoring abilities and elegant technique, respectively.
Goals and attachment
Historic or heroic goals have also been a decisive factor in becoming an idol for the fans like Antoine Kombouaré, Bruno N'Gotty and Amara Diané have demonstrated. Nicknamed "Gold Helmet" by PSG supporters, Kombouaré scored a spectacular header in the sixth minute of added time against Real Madrid (4–1) at Parc des Princes to send Paris through to the UEFA Cup semifinals in 1993. Three years later, N'Gotty netted the club's most important goal ever with a long-range free kick in the 1996 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup Final against Rapid Wien (1–0) that gave PSG their first and only European title to date. Last but not least, Diané saved Paris from relegation to Ligue 2 on the final match of the 2007–08 season by scoring both goals in their 2–1 win at Sochaux. Today, the Ivorian striker is still a club hero for most PSG fans.
For Jérôme Rothen, Blaise Matuidi and Mamadou Sakho it was a whole other story. They became "princes" in the eyes of the Parc des Princes faithful due to their strong work ethic and attachment to the Parisian club. In fact, all three of them have been PSG fans since they were kids. In 2004, Rothen rejected Barcelona, Juventus and even Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich in person to join his dream club, Paris Saint-Germain. After his transfer to Liverpool in 2013, beloved youth academy graduate Sakho came back to bid farewell to the club and thank the supporters before a PSG match at Parc des Princes. And Matuidi, for his part, offered his support for the return of the banned PSG ultras in 2016.
On and off the field
And some players, like Luis Fernández, Ricardo and Leonardo, have been revered by PSG supporters for both their achievements during their playing career at Paris and as part of the club's staff. A big PSG fan, Luis Fernández came through the youth ranks, was part of the team that won the club's first major trophies in the 1980s, and even became club captain. During his last match for PSG in 1986, the French international was acclaimed by fans at Parc des Princes as he performed a memorable lap of honor at the final whistle. He then returned as coach during PSG's golden era, leading them to UEFA Cup Winners' Cup victory in 1996.
Ricardo, considered as one of the club's greatest defenders, also won titles as PSG coach in the 1990s, most notably a French Cup and League Cup double in 1998. In similar fashion, Leonardo's only season in Paris was enough for supporters to remember him, before making his comeback as sporting director during the Qatari era and signing the next generation of fan favorites: Javier Pastore, Marco Verratti, Thiago Silva, Zlatan Ibrahimović and Edinson Cavani.
PSG presidents and coaches have also experienced the love or the wrath (or both) of the stands. The duo of Daniel Hechter (president) and Just Fontaine (coach) were the first to realize this when they led the capital club to the top-flight. Additionally, Hechter designed PSG's historic home jersey, now known as the "Hechter shirt." Francis Borelli (president) and Georges Peyroche (coach) were next, winning two consecutive French Cups in 1982 and 1983. After Borelli passed away in 2007, the presidential stand at Parc des Princes was renamed in his honor.
In 1994, despite winning PSG's second league crown, Portuguese coach Artur Jorge was heavily criticized by fans for his defensive tactics. Historic club president Michel Denisot, under whom PSG won no less than eight titles, replaced him with Luis Fernández. In contrast, Robin Leproux is probably the most hated president in the club's history, since he was the one who banned all supporters' groups from Parc des Princes in 2010. They returned in 2016 with the blessing of current PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi, thus winning the affection of the Collectif Ultras Paris, who have even made chants and banners in his honor.
From heroes to villains
Weah and the Marseille traitors
Usually, fan favorites have fallen from grace with the supporters when they have left PSG to join Le Classique arch-rivals Olympique de Marseille, like it happened with Frédéric Déhu, Fabrice Fiorèse, Lorik Cana and Gabriel Heinze. Other hero-to-villain arcs have also been related to transfers, but the anger of PSG fans has had more to do with the manner in which it happened than with the club the players joined or were trying to join. This has been the case with George Weah, Adrien Rabiot and Neymar.
In 1995, George Weah was the first player to fall out with the fans despite winning the Ballon d'Or, in part, for his European performances with PSG that year. The Liberian striker led Paris to the UEFA Champions League semifinals against future club A.C. Milan. Weah, however, was nonexistent the Italians as PSG lost both matches. Additionally, he told reporters right after the match that he wanted to join Milan next season.
Parisian fans accused him of making a subpar display since he wanted to leave for the Italian club. During his final match at Parc des Princes, with his transfer to Milan confirmed, Kop of Boulogne supporters insulted him and made monkey sounds every time he touched the ball, while hooligan group Casual Firm unfurled a racist banner that read “Weah, we don't need you” written with Celtic crosses and other neo-Nazi symbols. Upon his return to the stadium for Bernard Lama's testimonial match in 2011, Weah told reporters he did not have "a good memory of the Parc." In spite of this, the club and many other PSG supporters still consider him as a legendary player.
White midfielder David Ginola, who had also expressed his desire to leave the club, did not get the same treatment, though. They also taunted black goalkeeper Bernard Lama, who had replaced white PSG idol and previous goalie Joël Bats, whistling him and even displaying swastikas during his first seasons at the club. Lama would then become a fan favorite and club legend for his performances.
During the 2000s, at the peak of the PSG vs. OM rivalry and despite the hostilities, several Parisian players went from fan favorites to "traitors." PSG captain Frédéric Déhu and Fabrice Fiorèse were the first to cross that line when they both joined Marseille in 2004. Youth academy idol Lorik Cana followed suit a year later. And then it was Gabriel Heinze in 2009, despite previously telling reporters that he would only play with PSG if he ever returned to France. Upon their return to Parc des Princes, they were all welcomed with insults, whistles and hostile banners, including one from the Kop of Boulogne aimed at Fiorèse that read “We have Jesus (along with a portrait of PSG defender Mario Yepes), you have Judas.”
Rabiot and Neymar
The fall out of youth product Adrien Rabiot with PSG fans in 2018 was almost identical to that of George Weah: a huge fan favorite who wanted to join an Italian club. But, really, Rabiot's fall from grace with the supporters was due to his selfish attitude throughout his PSG career, permanently complaining about his position on the field or threatening to leave for not playing enough, as well as endless contract talks every time the club made him a renewal offer. And, when it became clear Rabiot would not sign a new contract, the Parisian ultras unfurled a banner directed at him during an away match at Ligue 2 side Orléans. It read: "Rabiot, we don't need you." He was subsequently frozen out by the club for the remainder of the 2018–19 season and then signed with Juventus when his contract expired in the summer of 2019.
Neymar is the most recent example of what happens when a player's relationship with PSG fans goes wrong. Sought after to help Paris win the UEFA Champions League, the Brazilian star arrived from Barcelona in a world-record €222m move in 2017 and, during his unveiling at Parc des Princes, he was welcomed as such by PSG ultras. Neymar, however, has not lived up to the expectations during his two seasons at the club. Although he has performed well for PSG when fit, he has also missed half of the team's games through injury, including several crucial Champions League games, leaving supporters frustrated and with a taste of unfinished business. But his desire for a Barcelona return in 2019 was the final straw.
PSG ultras, who felt he had "humiliated" their club, handed out flyers which described Neymar as "the most disgusting player in PSG history" and chanted "Neymar, son of a bitch" during the first home match of the 2019–20 season in August 2019. They also held two insulting banners which urged him to "get lost" and mocked his alleged rape case.
And, when the transfer fell threw, his comeback game against Strasbourg at Parc des Princes in September 2019 was even worse. Once again, PSG fans greeted Neymar with chants that he is a "son of a bitch", accompanied by boos every time he touched the ball and two more banners. One read "€20m to join Messi, no more whores in Paris," in reference to Neymar's attempt to put €20m from his own pocket in order to join Lionel Messi and Barcelona; the other prompted Neymar Senior to sell his son in Vila Mimosa, a notorious prostitution area of Rio de Janeiro. Neymar responded by scoring a stunning last-minute bicycle kick to beat Strasbourg 1–0, but PSG ultras still jeered him.
Since that match, rather than jeer him, the Collectif Ultras Paris have merely been indifferent. Neymar, for his part, scored two more late winners in PSG's 1–0 wins against Lyon and Bordeaux in September 2019, and his relationship with the fans seems to be getting better.
PSG Fan Clubs
Paris Saint-Germain currently has 101 fan clubs worldwide, called PSG Fan Clubs. Fourteen of them are in France (seven in Mainland France and seven in Overseas France). The remaining 87 fan clubs are located in Africa (23), Asia (17), Central America (2), Middle East (6), North America (15), Europe (15), Oceania (2) and South America (7).
Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy is one of the club's most famous fans. He regularly attends home matches at Parc des Princes and was even behind Qatar's buyout of Paris Saint-Germain in June 2011. Notable PSG fans also include NBA players Tony Parker and Boban Marjanović; American actor Patrick Dempsey; tennis players Richard Gasquet, Gaël Monfils and Victoria Azarenka; judoka Teddy Riner; and record producer DJ Snake, among many others listed below.
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