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Football Fan Violence: The Threat to Civil Order

The phenomenon of football violence is nothing new to Europe, although a new trend of unrest amongst certain elements of ethnic communities has began to emerge. Although football has witnessed different groups using the matches as a pretext to engage in ethnic violence such as Turkish and Kurdish groups clashing at football matches in Germany or rival hooligan firms brawling, fans rioting when actually celebrating their teams victory seems an emerging threat to civil order.

On the evening of 11 July 2019, celebrating their team’s progression in the Quarter Finals of the Africa Cup of Nation, Algeria football fans set off fireworks and rampaged amongst traffic clashing with police in the Champs Élysées, Paris. Twelve businesses were vandalised and two shops reportedly looted. At least 44 arrests were made and two officers slightly injured.

A map of the incidents along Champ Elysee in Paris during the African Cup of Nations tournament

On the evening of 14 July 2019, during the Semi Finals of the Africa Cup of Nations, celebrating Algerian football fans rioted and caused unrest in several major cities across France. The areas most affected were urban areas with large expatriate Algerian communities. In Lyon, at least 12 cars were torched and police were compelled to use tear gas in Guillotiere district.

A map of fan violence incidents in Lyon, France during AFCON 2019

Celebrating fans in Montpellier carelessly driving in the vicinity of Mosson Stadium, accidently killed a pedestrian and in Marseille rioting fans set off fireworks at buildings along Boulevard de la Canebière and threw projectiles at police when fans were refused entry into the Old Port area. Unrest also occurred in suburbs across Paris with acts of arson, theft and vandalism reported with at least 39 arrests made in the city. Overall 282 people were arrested across the country.

Incidents of vandalism from Algerian football fans following African Cup of Nations victory

With national concerns over unrest, a huge security operation was enacted in Paris and nationwide for the Africa Cup of Nations Final where Algeria played against Senegal on 19 July 2019. At least 2,500 police and security forces were mobilised in the Champs Élysées district in order to maintain order. Businesses along the Champs Élysées boarded up businesses and closed early in preparation for potential violence.

Reports of riots in Cairo Airport from Algerian Fans following AFCON win

In addition to events in France, unrest was also reported in Finsbury Park, London with Algeria fans setting off fireworks and causing unrest celebrating on both 14 and 19 July 2019.

Fan Violence across London from Algeria following their win Cup of Nations 2019

In conclusion it is likely that in the future security planners and police authorities will have to enact large policing operations within France and other European countries when certain countries with traditions of football fan violence reach playoff stages in football, or possibly other sporting events.

The emergence of North African football hooliganism is one of many increasing trends that Intelligence Fusion monitors. We anticipate that authorities will have to enact more draconian security measures to counter similar behaviour in France in coming years.


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