France’s minister of sports had hoped that an invitation for the Rugby World Cup in Paris might ease tensions between Liverpool FC supporters.
John Lichfield was an ex-director of foreign affairs for the Independent and the paper’s Paris correspondent for 20 years.
France has been crowned the new queen of the arrogantly and foolishly miss-informed.
The following Wednesday Amelie OudeaCastera who is the French minister of sports, changed the script for Queen Marie-Antoinette’s diary in the 21 century. century.
Queen Marie-Antoinette, speaking around 1789, possibly apocryphally saying: “The poor people have no bread? Why aren’t they eating cakes?” Oudea-Castera, speaking to the French national assembly on Wednesday, stated in essence: “Liverpool football fans are unhappy with us? Why don’t they visit Paris to watch some rugby .”
Oudea-Castera was hoping to soothe supporters from Liverpool FC and address the demands of fans that she and the French government apologize for the events of the Champions League final last summer in which thousands of fans were brutally beaten, crushed and tear-gassed assaulted by French police at of the Stade de France, north of Paris.
At the time, she along with others French officials have blamed Liverpool supporters for allegedly trying to gain entry to the stadium using fake tickets. The results of a six-month investigation by the government, which confirmed the earlier findings by the French Senate and the French Senate, has put responsibility on European football ruling organization, UEFA, and the French police.
In an French parliament hearing on Wednesday about the 2024 Paris Olympic Games, Oudea-Castera stated that she had talked to the head of Liverpool FC and suggested that they invite a certain number of Liverpool supporters “to one of the matches of England during the Rugby World Cup” in France this autumn.
How do we begin? The only thing that would have been more offensive could have been to give Liverpool supporters compensation, in terms tickets to an Manchester United game.
As French the minister of sport, Oudea-Castera isn’t expected to be an expert in the intricate social and sporting geography of Britain. She must be aware about the sociology of sport.
In Wales as well as in France, Rugby Union is a sport for the working class. In England particularly in the northwest region of England it’s the sport of barbour-wearing toffs or at the very least, the suburban middle class in leafy suburbs.
In the northwest too there are sociological as well as tribal borders. Snooty Manchester has a top rugby team (the Sale Sharks) as in two of the top football teams.
It is said that the city of Liverpool is seen as an epicenter of the left-wing, anti-establishment workers. There are two of the top teams in football (although Liverpool fans would say it’s only one and a half). There is none of the rugby clubs in any size — and neither Rugby League nor Rugby Union.
To invite Liverpool supporters at take part in the Rugby World Cup, however well-intentioned, was akin to inviting hip-hop fans to an opera.
If she really was looking to rectify the incident that occurred on the Stade de France last May Oudea-Castera ought to have begun by apologizing.
The tragic events affected Liverpool fans due to the tragic crowd incident in the Hillsborough stadium Sheffield in 1989, where more than 97 Reds supporters were murdered. The responsibility of local police was hid by the authorities. Liverpool fans were wrongly blamed.
Thanks to good luck there was no fatality for a Liverpool fan in May. However, the French authorities concealed the incompetence of police at the time; and Liverpool supporters were once again wrongly blamed.
The Liverpool supporters’ organizations have demanded an apology to the French government for the lies supposed to be given. Oudea-Castera acknowledges there were mistakes , but does not believe there were any falsehoods.
In this regard the invitation she made to some of the most passionate football enthusiasts to attend this year’s Rugby Union World Cup in France isn’t simply a snide comment. It’s a patronizing denial of the responsibility. It’s a professional offence.