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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Nov 25, 2006

PSG fan's death sparks nationwide debate

PARIS, Nov 25 (Reuters) - The death of a Paris St Germain fan after a UEFA Cup game has sparked a nationwide debate in France on how to rid soccer of violence and racism.

'When football kills', screamed the headline in white letters on the totally black front page of French sports daily L'Equipe on Saturday.

A policeman killed one man and injured another while under attack from fans shouting racist comments following the side's 4-2 defeat by Israeli team Hapoel Tel Aviv on Thursday.

Witnesses said the black policeman opened fire on a mob of PSG fans who were chasing a Jewish supporter of the Israeli team outside Parc des Princes in Paris.

'We all have the same goal, which is to eradicate hooliganism, racism and violence from soccer for good,' said French Professional Football League (LFP) president Frederic Thiriez.

'The action we have been taking is already producing results but we must speed things up,' he added in a statement.

Observers, however, pointed out that PSG had been tainted by hooliganism for years and had failed to tackle the issue.

'The death of a PSG supporter ... tragically is a reminder that French football has failed to eradicate violence and racism from the stands of some of its clubs, which is unforgivable,' wrote L'Equipe.

The Hapoel supporter was being pursued by around 100 PSG fans when plainclothes policeman Antoine Granomort intervened, according to the police.

Granomort was placed in custody while magistrates investigated his assertion that he had acted in self-defence.

The fan who was shot dead, Julien Quemener, 25, was a member of the Boulogne Boys, a group of PSG supporters comprising far-right sympathisers, some registered as violent by police.

Under French law, such organisations can not be dismantled, but the issue is likely to be raised at a meeting later on Saturday between Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, league president Thiriez and PSG supporters. Sarkozy has in the past called for the associations to be banned.

Thiriez said the league's priority would be to ensure that PSG's next games, away to Nantes on Sunday and at home to Toulouse on Dec. 3, would remain incident-free.

Rival groups of soccer hooligans ransacked a motorway service station near Nantes on their way back from a league match there last season.

'A match against PSG is always delicate but this one is exceptionally problematic given the dramatic events that have just taken place,' Nantes president Rudi Roussillon, who will implement reinforced security measures for the game, told reporters.

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