If anyone needs reminding what Chelsea fans are in for when they visit Marseille next week, perhaps we can enlighten you. For starters, you can expect three hours in a shed with no toilets followed by a liberal dose of tear gas and batons. If you’re really lucky, a night in the cells and a ‘thorough’ strip search awaits with a tightened French fist ‘looking for drugs’.
When Chelsea visited Marseille in 2000, here’s what happened. Chelsea fans were herded by police force, three hours before the game, into a covered hangar with no seats, no heating, no toilets and no water. Taking a leaf from Radovan Karadic’s best practice manual of Serbian detention, Chelsea fans waited a full three hours before being marshalled into the ground.
What occurred next has entered Chelsea folklore. Missile after missile from the French fans rained down on the Chelsea contingent with absolutely not a word from the French police who enjoyed ‘Les Rosbif ‘ooligans’ being pelted with food, coins, bottles and a few opened ‘le couteau à cran d’arrêt’.
After a prolonged assault, a few Chelsea fans decided to take the law into their own hands and made their way to an open gate at the bottom of the away end to confront the Marseille thugs. Suddenly the French police took interest and, having seen the Chelsea fans take the bait, waded into our away end with batons and a good few rounds of tear gas. Cue pandemonium.
Was there any justice? If you want to see French justice in action, CFCnet would thoroughly recommend Jacques Audiard’s A Prophet, which won the Cannes Grand Prix last year. Alternatively, have a read of the Independent’s report on the matter by clicking here. It was justice alright, the sort of justice meted out to Rodney King in 1991.
Is it going to happen again? Probably. UEFA have dispatched an ‘official’ to the game but that’s as useful as corked claret. Will said official be in the away end dodging bottles and coins or will he be enjoying Olympique Marseille’s finest prawn sandwiches? We’ll let you work that one out. As for Chelsea, will they be taking an observer to the game? Nope.
The whole judicial system with UEFA and Clubs is that they prefer to wash their hands of any incidents and let the local police and courts take matters into their own hands. If the police are corrupt, what to do? Certainly we can expect no help from Chelsea, Marseille, UEFA or the French police. It’ll never happen.
Whilst CFCnet does not want to inflame matters further, it is clear that in Marseille Chelsea fans are on their own. Us included. We therefore recommend the following:
- Do get to the Stade Vélodrome, or anywhere near it, LATE. Otherwise you’ll be rounded up and kept in detention for hours. You’ll probably miss the opening 15 minutes of the game.
- Make sure you’ve had a toilet break well before you get anywhere near the ground because you won’t see one for a while.
- Do take a video camera/phone and send footage of missiles being thrown by French fans. Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll put the footage up on our own Youtube channel as evidence.
- Take a pocket umbrella for the rain of coins, ‘merde’ and offal.
As for personal protection, we think it would be irresponsible and foolish to say that you can legally buy pepper spray in Marseille.