Two French football fans have died as violence erupted across the county following Les Bleus’s World Cup victory over Croatia.
By – Peter Allen
After the team celebrated their second ever World Cup win in Moscow, there were jubilant scene across France.
In Moscow, Emmanuel Macron was memorably pictured leaping onto a gantry to wildly celebrate a goal in a break from the usual presidential reserve.
But back at home, the joy turned to violence in several areas.
A total of 292 people were placed in custody across France, the Interior Ministry revealed.
The most violent disturbances took place in Paris on Sunday, where 102 people were arrested, and 92 taken to cells.
Michel Delpuech, the Paris Prefect, said: ‘Given the crowd present and despite unacceptable disorder, we have record a measured balance sheet.’
Some of the worst scenes were in central Paris, where celebrations turned into widespread rioting, looting and ugly clashes with cops.
French police fired tear gas and dispersed crowds from the Champs Elysees late yesterday following the 4-2 triumph in Moscow.
The iconic avenue remained closed early this morning but trouble flared again on Monday morning, when riot police had to attend the Nike store on the Champs Elysee.
This was because crowds built up to try and get hold of the new France shirt, complete with two stars to signify two World Cup wins.
Following minor scuffles, it was announced that the garments would not in fact be put on general sale until Tuesday.
In the Alpine city of Annecy, some 350 miles east, a 50-year-old France fan broke his neck after jumping into a canal at the end of the final.
Meanwhile, in nearby Saint-Felix, a man in his 30s was killed when his car crashed into a tree as he celebrated his team’s win.
Such accidents were accompanied by baton charges by CRS riot squads, as officers desperately tried to keep crowds in order.
“Rioting broke out soon after midnight as large crowds refused to disperse,” a police source in Paris said.
“Shops including the Publicis Drugstore close to the Arc de Triomphe were ransacked. Windows were smashed and officers who intervened were attacked.
“There have been scenes of absolute chaos that have spoiled the party.”
Millions of French fans had taken to the streets in joy after the final whistle, with thousands gathering along the Champs Elysees.
Even President Emmanuel Macron had been earlier seen punching the air at Luzhniki Stadium as his country’s team scored a goal.
But as the evening wore on, a small number of fans clashed with police, damaging some businesses and properties along the avenue.
Some threw stones and other projectiles at riot officers.
And in response, tear gas was deployed.
Videos shot at the scene saw units of CRS moving in, as hooligans wearing France shirts and black balaclavas attacked them.
As the trouble intensified, the authorities shut all transport links, including Metro services and other local trains.
According to BFM TV, a decision was made by security officials to disperse the crowd. It said minor crowd trouble was also reported in Lyon.
While police reported two deaths, a number of people were left seriously injured due to accidents.
France had mobilised around 110,000 security staff for the Bastille Day festivities on Saturday and World Cup final yesterday.
Some 4,000 police and security forces had been deployed across Paris in case of trouble following the country’s first World Cup final appearance since 2006.
In the eastern city of Lyon, hundreds of youths went on the rampage, attacking cars and setting fire to wheelie-bins.
Public fountains and other monuments in cities such as Bordeaux and Marseille, as well as Lyon, were filled with youths brandishing flares and throwing bottles.
Tear gas was also used on the groups, but the trouble continued until well into the early hours of today.
In Frouard, near the city of Nancy, a three-year-old boy and two six-year-old girls were seriously injured after being struck by a motorcycle, which then fled the scene.
And in Ajaccio, on the French Mediterranean island of Corsica, scuffles broke out between France and Croatia supporters.
Earlier yesterday, crowds had gathered next to the Eiffel Tower to watch the match on large TV screens.
They sang the La Marseillaise, France’s national anthem, and waved Tricolour flags.
Following the final whistle, thousands of firecrackers and fireworks were let off, as the country celebrated its first World Cup win since 1998.
Read more: From 2018/01/10