Felix Keith, Mirror, December 15, 2022
Riot police have been deployed across France after French supporters clashed with Moroccan fans following the World Cup semi-final between the two countries.
France booked their place in Sunday’s final against Argentina with a 2-0 win over Morocco on Wednesday night. Goals from Theo Hernandez and Randal Kolo Muani were enough to send Didier Deschamps side into the showpiece at the Lusail Stadium, where they will defend the trophy they won four years ago in Russia.
Victory saw France supporters take to the streets to celebrate, but it also saw them clash with Moroccans in some areas. France is a former colonial ruler of Morocco and has a large Moroccan diaspora, estimated to number around one million people, which is concentrated in Paris and the Mediterranean coast.
Videos shared on Twitter by newspaper Midi Libre Montpellier showed violent clashes between fans at the city’s Place de la Comédie. Screaming was heard as groups of men threw fireworks and flares at each other before tear gas was used by police.
Footage showed men picking up chairs off the floor and wielding them while waving French flags. Calm appeared to be restored eventually, with France fans remaining in the square to celebrate their win peacefully.
Meanwhile, in Paris, riot police were deployed on the Champs-Elysees in an effort to disperse crowds. Footage shared on social media showed hooded men reportedly chasing Moroccans down the streets following full-time.
Trouble was anticipated by the French authorities, who decided to mobilise some 10,000 police across the country. A whopping 5,000 of those were delegated for the area of Paris.
“Our Moroccan friends, just like the French supporters, are welcome to organise a party and our job is not to stop them from partying… but this will have to be done under good security conditions,” French interior minister Gerald Darmanin said.
“For Wednesday, everyone is afraid of a war, a guerrilla war, a civil war, and we do not want the Champs-Elysees to be transformed into a battlefield.”