• Physical or verbal violence, the 2021-2022 season of OGC Nice was marked by incidents from Nice supporters.

  • With a sociologist specializing in football supporters and a footballer who has campaigned against homophobia in the community for twenty years,

    20 Minutes

    tries to understand these behaviors resulting from a global football culture and the solutions to change it.

OGC Nice's 2021-2022 season was marked by incidents from its supporters at the start and end, both physical and verbal violence.

In August, during the match against Olympique de Marseille, several Nice supporters entered the Allianz Riviera stadium and one of them tried to hit the Marseille player Dimitri Payet.

Ten days ago, against AS Saint-Etienne, after the Nice club's defeat in the Coupe de France final against FC Nantes, part of a stand sang a song insulting the memory of the former footballer Emiliano Sala, who died in a plane crash in 2019.

An event that led to a general mobilization, from the sports world to that of politics, describing this kind of behavior as “intolerable”.

Practices which are not attributable only to these Nice supporters but which come from a more global culture which consists in seeing this sport as “a battle between two camps where everything is good to destabilize the opponent”, analyzes Nicolas Hourcade.

According to this sociologist at the Ecole Centrale de Lyon, a specialist in football supporters, the people of Nice are still part of “the most virulent groups on a French scale and the most focused in insult and chambering”.

“Valves” justified by “second degree”

This “tradition” actually comes from an influence from other European countries.

“In the 1980s, ultra groups [supporters whose goal is to fanatically support their favorite team] developed, drawing inspiration from the Italians.

They then reinforced this side of opposition to the other, of competition, and moved on to violence.

The goal now is to focus on what hurts the most.

And Nice's proximity to Italy may explain the frequent use of this aggressive register.

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In this competition “of the valve”, recently justified by “humor” and “second degree” by the South Brigade of OGC Nice, also appear discriminatory slogans, in particular homophobic.

The specialist continues: "Compared to other groups, that of the Populaire Sud has always claimed to be apolitical, while being known to include a fringe of far-right supporters, a political current which is not at the forefront for stop these discriminatory chants.

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No "direct" intention to target homosexuals

For Yoann Lemaire, president and founder of the Foot Ensemble association and the first footballer to reveal his homosexuality in France, in 2003, the supporters want to "debase the other" with this "impression of domination" but "without direct intention of aiming for homosexual people”.

“Ultras themselves gay often claim that they have never been abused or insulted during matches, he develops.

I'm told it's part of the atmosphere but you have to name things anyway.

It is also due to ignorance.

When I discuss with supporters on this subject, I am told that I am right after ten minutes.

They also claim that if there was a coming out on the field, from a referee or a player, their chants would evolve.

Hence the need for a strong symbol.

In the meantime, we must educate supporters and empower them.

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The solution would be to have "real legal sanctions by identifying the people to isolate the problem and by prohibiting access to the stadium for example" and not "closing an entire stand".

This would be, according to him, the “most effective” way to change these behaviors or even mentalities.

"Return to society the image in which it should be"

A larger and more complicated problem to deal with for Nicolas Hourcade.

“The supporters defend themselves by saying that it is the way in which we insult in everyday language.

But the difference with the stadium is that it has a public scope.

This place has always been perceived as an outlet, a space of freedom and overnight, there is a desire to control the public.

When there is a mobilization against these songs, it is also in order to convey a broader message, and to say that it is no longer acceptable to trivialize these remarks.

In a way, we want to make society aware that these songs pose a problem and send it back the image of what it should be.

A fairly recent line after all.

In 2019, the Minister of Sports at the time, Roxana Maracineanu, favored the stoppage of matches by the referee at each discriminatory song.

A year earlier, the Professional Football League got involved in the fight against homophobia.

Awareness workshops

And the fact that it is publicized also plays its part.

“It marks and it shows the certain limits that we cannot cross”, assures the sociologist.

In this dimension, Yoann Lemaire underlines the importance of the example work that the Professional Football League and the players do by participating in the day against LGBT-phobias, on May 17, and by answering his questions for documentaries.

“A child will see that Messi played with a flocked shirt in the colors of the rainbow, symbol of the LGBT community, and integrated that it is normal.

A lot of work has already been done”.

For five years, the president of Foot Ensemble has been traveling across France to educate young people in training centers on this subject.

At OGC Nice, workshops are planned "to educate people to fight against all forms of discrimination", learns

20 Minutes

from concordant sources.

Coach Christophe Galtier was also part of the campaign clip against homophobia this year, encouraging footballers to come out.

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  • Sport

  • Nice

  • Paca

  • OGC Nice

  • Soccer

  • Support

  • Homophobia

  • LFP

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