Paris Saint-Germain F.C. - Support


See also: Kop of Boulogne

Paris Saint-Germain enjoys a considerable amount of popularity, being the second most popular football club in France after Olympique de Marseille. PSG is also one of the most widely supported French clubs in the world. Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy is one of the club's most prominent supporters. The capital club is known to draw their support from both far-right white nationalists and Île de France's multi-ethnic population. During the 1970s, PSG were struggling to attract a fervent fan-base to the Parc des Princes and so decided to offer cheap tickets in the Boulogne to young people. The offer was a big hit and the new fans, influenced by Liverpool's famous Spion Kop stand in Anfield, created the Kop of Boulogne stand (KoB), which immersed in casual hooligan culture. The dubious English role models were the inspiration behind France's most infamous fans, the kobistes. These fans shaped the most notorious stand in French football. The home of French hooliganism, the KoB has been synonymous with violence, racism and fascism since the 1980s, when skinheads took over part of the stand, lending the name far‑right connotations. Separate gangs were formed in the KoB, united under an English inspirated logo: a bulldog's head on a tricolor map of France. The Boulogne Boys, the most high-profile of these groups, was formed in 1985. The KoB became the rallying point not only of the most loyal PSG fans, but also of the most extremist. The Parc des Princes became known as the most hostile stadium in all of France.

Despite PSG won the league in 1986, the team enjoyed its worst top flight attendance record in 1991. The press considered the violence at the stadium to be the culprit. That fall, the PSG board started subsidizing supporters who, sick of the chaos in the KoB, were willing to move across the field. Concerned by the behaviour of racist fans at the KoB, PSG encouraged the creation of a rival kop at the other end, the Auteuil, presumably to marginalise the troublemakers. And so the Supras Auteuil and the Tigris Mystic, the most high-profile groups of the Auteuil, appeared in the early 1990s. However, this resulted in a new problem - the Auteuil area became the home of multicultural PSG fans who were unwelcome in the predominantly white KoB. Despite tentative moves to break up the KoB the violence escalated. Incidents occurred wherever PSG travelled and only multiplied with the emergence of rival stand Auteuil. Unlike the English-inspired KoB, Auteuil fans stylized their support on the Italian ultra model of apolitical fan culture. Average attendance at the Parc des Princes soared, but the violence continued with injuries and arrests especially in Le Classique against arch-rivals Marseille. Additionally, KoB group Boulogne Boys, one of Ligue 1's most notorious firm, fought throughout the 1990s and 2000s with fans of clubs from all over Europe.

PSG fans have even been killed in the crossfire. After a 2006 UEFA Cup match against Hapoel Tel Aviv at the Parc des Princes, KoB member Julien Quemener was shot and killed by a police officer trying to protect a Hapoel supporter whom the group was attacking. The KoB also unfurled a banner which referred to Lens fans as incestuous, jobless paedophiles during the 2008 League Cup Final. The episode led to the dissolution of the Boulogne Boys, one of the oldest hooligan groups in France. However, the intriguing specificity of PSG's fans is that they spend more time fighting against each other, than fighting against other teams' counterparts. The KoB groups first targeted Tigris Mystic, which dissolved in 2006 in consequence of the attacks. The violence reemerged in 2009, when the kobistes ire was trained on the Supras Auteuil, who responded in kind. Ahead of a league match against Marseille in 2010, Auteuil members murdered KoB member Yann Lorence. The event led to the dissolution of the Supras Auteuil. PSG had lost its two major supporters groups in the space of two years. Likewise the club launched "Tous PSG", an anti-violence plan that annihilated all supporters groups in the stadium. PSG allowed them back in 2011. Minor groups such as Hoolicool, Titi-Fosi and Vikings 27 returned, but the majority of the casuals and ultras didn't, alleging the club had "lost its soul". Consequently, where there used to be a raucous and even threatening atmosphere behind each goal, now there is a largely dispirited crowd.

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