Paris Saint-Germain F.C. supporters
Paris Saint-Germain Football Club (PSG) is the most popular football club in France and one of the most widely supported teams in the world. Famous PSG fans include former French President Nicolas Sarkozy and retired NBA player Tony Parker.
Lacking a big passionate fanbase, the club began offering cheaper season tickets to young supporters in 1976. These fans were placed in the Kop K, located in the K section of the Paris stand at Parc des Princes. Following an increase in ticket prices, Kop K supporters moved to the Boulogne stand in 1978, and the Kop of Boulogne (KoB) was born. There, the club's first Italian-style ultra group, Boulogne Boys, was founded in 1985. Other KoB groups, however, took British hooligans as dubious role models and violence rapidly escalated. PSG supporters' groups have been linked to football hooliganism ever since.
PSG owners Canal+ responded in 1991 by encouraging and financing non-violent fans of the KoB stand to take place in the Auteuil stand at the other end of Parc des Princes. The Virage Auteuil was born, alongside Supras Auteuil, its most notorious ultras. At first the measure worked but, slowly, a violent rivalry arose between the two stands. Things came to a head in 2010 before a match against Olympique de Marseille in Paris. Boulogne fan Yann Lorence was killed following a fight between groups from both stands outside Parc des Princes, forcing PSG president Robin Leproux to take action.
The club exiled the supporters' groups from Parc des Princes and banned them from all PSG matches in what was known as Plan Leproux. It made PSG pay the price in terms of atmosphere, with one of Europe's most feared venues now subdued. For their part, former Virage Auteuil supporters formed the Collectif Ultras Paris (CUP) in February 2016, with the aim of reclaiming their place at the stadium. In October 2016, after a six-year absence, the club agreed to their return. Grouped in the Auteuil end of the stadium, the CUP currently is the only ultra association officially recognized by PSG. The ultra movement has also started to come back to life in the Boulogne stand. New groups Block Parisii, Paname Rebirth and Résistance Parisienne are trying to convince the club of relaunching the Kop of Boulogne.
Paris Saint-Germain is the most popular football club in France with 22% of fans identifying as Parisians. Le Classique arch-rivals Olympique de Marseille come second with 20%, while Olympique Lyonnais is third with 14%. PSG is also one of the most widely supported teams in the world with 35 million supporters worldwide, more than any other French club.
The Parc des Princes has been the home stadium of the capital club since 1974. The pitch of the stadium is surrounded by four covered all-seater stands, officially known as Tribune Borelli, Tribune Auteuil, Tribune Paris and Tribune Boulogne. Historically, PSG's most hardcore fans have occupied the Auteuil and Boulogne stands. Boulogne Boys, Supras Auteuil and the Collectif Ultras Paris (CUP) have been the club's most famous supporters' groups. PSG also has a large number of fan clubs in France and worldwide, called PSG Fan Clubs.
During their first three years of existence, Paris Saint-Germain were fan-owned and had 14,820 socios (members), who paid an annual fee of 25 to 40 francs (4 to 6 euros). The socios were the club's first supporters. As such, they founded Le Club des Associés (The Club of Socios) to organize travels for PSG home and away matches. It was PSG and France's first supporters' group. More than 2,000 socios attended the club's first match ever on 1 August 1970. It was a friendly against Quevilly (1–3 loss) at Stade Jean-Bouin.
After PSG's 2–1 win over Brest in the 1970–71 French Division 2 in October 1970, players from the visiting team complained about the hostile atmosphere produced by the home supporters. The Parisian players were delighted, though. PSG defender Roland Mitoraj told reporters in February 1971 that he had never experienced this kind of support when he played for Saint-Étienne. In May 1971, for the decisive top-of-the-table clash against Rouen, 5,000 socios travelled to Normandy.
The following season, the club's first in Ligue 1, PSG faced Lille in January 1972 as both sides battled to avoid relegation. PSG won 3–1 with the 1,200 socios in attendance unfurling a banner that read "PSG salutes Lille! Long live football and may the best one win!" But the club split shortly after and PSG were administratively relegated to Division 3. Paris FC stayed in Ligue 1 and an overwhelming majority of socios preferred to support them. In consequence, Le Club des Associés ceased to exist as well.
PSG still had some supporters, though. They surprised the players with streamers and trumpets during their French Cup match against Rouen in Mantes in January 1973. On 10 November 1973, PSG played their first match at Parc des Princes against Ligue 2 promotion rivals Red Star, winning 3–1. Before kickoff, the team warmed up in front of their fans at the Boulogne stand. It was the beginning of a tradition that still stands today. PSG returned to Ligue 1 in 1974, immediately moving into the Parc as Paris FC had been relegated that same year. On 13 August 1974, PSG recorded a 2–2 draw against Metz in front of nearly 14,000 spectators during their maiden home match in the top-flight. The club's oldest active supporters' group, Le Club des Amis du PSG (The Club of Friends of PSG), was founded in January 1975. Its members settled in the Paris stand with a banner: "The Spirit Club."
Kop of BoulogneEdit
Back then, the majority of people attending Parc des Princes were casual spectators or away supporters, and the stadium was only full when Paris faced more prestigious sides like Saint-Étienne, Nantes, Olympique de Marseille or Stade de Reims. In response, the club put in place an attractive subscription plan called Young PSG Supporters in 1976, placing its subscribers in the K section, the first fan-dedicated space at Parc des Princes. They named this section the Kop K in reference to the famous Spion Kop stand in Anfield that groups the supporters of Liverpool. Kop K went from 500 subscribers against Reims in September 1976 to 3,000 members in early 1977.
"The visiting team had just scored a goal. While the Parisian team slowly walked to the middle of the field, the fans in the Kop of Boulogne cheered and waved flags with the colors of the club, as if it had been PSG who had just scored! The spectators had become supporters."— Club statement during the 1978–79 season.
Following an increase in ticket prices in 1978, the club allowed Kop K supporters to move to the Boulogne stand, and the Kop K became the Kop of Boulogne (KoB). PSG players had been warming up there since 1973, so the supporters were logically invested in being closer to their idols. With the transformation of Auteuil into a second stand reserved for PSG fans in 1991, players have warmed up there too.
United under a bulldog's head on top of the French flag, the KoB was mainly composed of three types of fans: Italian-style ultras (e.g. Boulogne Boys, Gavroches, Firebirds, Rangers, Tifo e Stupido, Sus Scrofa, Kaos and S.K.); English-inspired kopistes (e.g. Paris Assas Club, Head-Hunter, Génération Parisienne, Parc Kaos, Section Cigogne, Crazy Gang and Layache Family); and hooligans influenced by casual culture, far-right views and racist leanings (e.g. Commando Pirate, Pitbull Kop, Army Korps, Casual Firm, Indépendants Boulogne Rouge, Block B, Commando Loubard and Milice Paris).
Founded in 1985, Boulogne Boys was the KoB's first supporters' group. It was also PSG's first ultra group and one of the oldest of its kind in France, alongside Marseille's Commando Ultra (1984) and Nice's Brigade Sud (1985). The group's distinctive trait was welcoming the players' entrance to the pitch with tifo choreography, which included flares, flags, banners and chants. Despite being Boulogne's most high-profile group, its style didn't fit the image of the stand, being more eye-catching and less confrontational. Nonetheless, Boys was the stand's biggest animators. They were also a controlling force and a mediator in the stand, and had an unpolitical stance in the highly politicized Boulogne.
Members of Boulogne Boys left the group in 1986 and created Gavroches that same year. Gavroches and Rangers were ultras as well but inspired by real English kopistes, with sheer vocal volume and scarf-waving as their chief medium for support. They would mainly make use of flags, flares and chants like "Le Parc est à nous" ("The Parc is ours"), which were battle cries to intimidate the visiting teams and its supporters. If they prepared tifos from time to time, they preferred to use their money to help a member in trouble with justice.
At the beginning of the 1990s, Paris Saint-Germain were enjoying their worst attendance record since reaching Ligue 1 in 1974. The violence and racism in the Kop of Boulogne took the blame for this situation. To give non-violent and non-racist supporters in Boulogne an alternative, as well as boost the attendance levels, new owners Canal+ backed the creation of the Virage Auteuil in 1991. Before this date, Auteuil was mainly composed of casual spectators and away fans despite the presence of PSG fan group Auteuil Fanatics in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Encouraged and financed by the club, Supras Auteuil, Lutèce Falco and Incorrigibles Gaulois were the first ultra groups of the new stand. They were soon joined by Sus Scrofa in 1992, then by Dragon's, Tigris Mystic, Titans, Kaos and S.K. in 1993. Karsud in 1994 and Kriek in 1999 completed the Virage Auteuil roster.
The measure worked; violence bottomed, while attendance steadily grew, peaking in 2000. But even though Auteuil was a way for the club to fight against racism, it proved to be a mistake in the long run. Rather than kick out the racists, the club just tacitly accepted that Boulogne was a white-only stand, preferring to move members of ethnic minorities to the Auteuil stand, located opposite to the KoB. Auteuil ultras were racially mixed, largely left-wing, anti-racist and represented Parisian diversity with immigrants or sons of immigrants.
In contrast to the English-inspired KoB, the Auteuil stand modelled after the Italian ultra culture. Auteuil ultras made use of banners, flares, chants and other expressions of tifo, which means organized and choreographed support of the team. Symbolically, they referred to the stand as Virage Auteuil. "Virage" is the French equivalent for the Italian word "curva." Supras Auteuil, the stand's biggest group, summed up this philosophy; Supras is the contraction of "SUPporters" and "ultRAS."
Virage Auteuil gradually became a reference within the Panorama Ultra Français (French Ultra Panorama or PUF). In April 1995, PSG met A.C. Milan at Parc des Princes in the UEFA Champions League semifinals. Before kickoff, Auteuil welcomed their players by unveiling a spectacular tifo, which was voted the "Best European Tifo" of the 1994–95 season by the Torcida International Fans Organization (TIFO). The tifo against Steaua Bucharest in August 1997 was also a big landmark for Auteuil.
Auteuil grew in the shadow of the Kop of Boulogne. Both stands competed for visual and vocal dominance, but Auteuil never questioned the authority of Boulogne. As a result, these two fan scenes, with their radically different racial composition and political views, coexisted in relative peace during the 1990s and early 2000s. They even began exchanging chants and mottos such as "Ici, c'est Paris!" ("This is Paris!") in 1997, becoming a trademark of PSG games at Parc des Princes. In 2001, the Auteuil stand became "too small" and a new generation wishing to follow the Ultra model of Virage Auteuil settled in the neighboring stand: the G section of the Paris stand. The first group, Authentiks, appeared in January 2002 and grew very quickly. They were joined by another ultra group, Puissance Paris, in 2003.
It all changed in May 2003, when Tigris Mystic celebrated their 10th anniversary with a banner that read "The Future Belongs to Us." Subtly aimed at Boulogne, this message was a war declaration for KoB hooligans: Auteuil was the future, while Boulogne was the past. The power struggle that opposed PSG's first historical supporters of Boulogne against the newer ultras of Auteuil was just a cover for the real problem: the racial tension that had existed between the stands for many years.
Suddenly, the clashes outside Parc des Princes were largely between hooligans of the same team, unlike anywhere else in Europe. One side of the ring featured Boulogne hooligan firms Casual Firm, Commando Loubard and Milice Paris whose members were far-right, white supremacists looking to "rid the suburbs of blacks and Arabs." The other side featured some members of Auteuil multiethnic group Tigris Mystic, whose initially peaceful anti-racist and left-wing ultras then chose to fight back. They had begun clashing with hooligans from other teams at the start of the 2000s.
The first skirmishes between Auteuil and Boulogne took place right after the banner, but were cut short by a short-lived truce to fight against the new security policy of the club in 2004. Jean-Pierre Larrue, PSG's head of security, was determined to clear Parc des Princes of hooligans and racists. His idea was to dissolve all the Auteuil and Boulogne groups and recreate two, one unique for each stand, with responsible persons to lead them. But fans menaced mayhem and even sent death threats to PSG president Francis Graille. He eventually lost the backing of his bosses, who pulled the plug on the security plan and fired Larrue.
The conflict resumed immediately afterwards and incidents occurred wherever PSG played during the 2005–06 season. In October 2005, Casual Firm hooligans thrashed the headquarters of Tigris Mystic, to which the latter responded by attacking a group of Boulogne hooligans in February 2006. Racism in the Kop of Boulogne had become intolerable that campaign and other Virage Auteuil ultras began to denounce it, vocally following Tigris Mystic when they sang "La Marseillaise" while brandishing their French identity card. In spite of this, the stand didn't support the violent actions of Tigris members, which by then had brought them into conflict not only with KoB hooligans but also with big ultra group Boulogne Boys, and even with Auteuil group Karsud, who had close ties with their far-right peers in Boulogne. Since the club directors were scarcely supportive as well, Tigris Mystic decided to self-dissolve in July 2006 after several months of violent incidents. Later, in 2008, several ex-Tigris created a new group, Auteuil Rouge, which became Grinta in 2009.
Dissolution of Boulogne BoysEdit
With the disbanding of Tigris Mystic, PSG officials thought that peace would finally return. The reality, however, was that revenge and hatred had taken over the stadium; Boulogne and Auteuil could no longer stand each other. Tigris was gone but other Auteuil supporters had become violent as well, while racism in the KoB was out of control. In November 2006, a few months after Canal+ sold the club to Colony Capital, things really began to fall apart when PSG fan Julien Quemener died. The Boulogne affiliate was among a large group of fans that racially harassed a Hapoel Tel Aviv supporter after the Israeli club defeated PSG at Parc des Princes. A police officer intervened to help him and killed Quemener in self-defence.
Following Quemener's death, more strict security measures were implemented, including stadium bans and police controls on matchdays. This led to a relative cease of fire between the two stands. They even fought together against Twente and Marseille hooligans in December 2008 and October 2009, respectively. Tensions, however, were slowly mounting again in the background. Supras Auteuil subgroup K-Soce Team was born in 2007. Brandishing flags of Algeria and Palestine, they embodied the growing politicization and left-wing radicalization of the Auteuil stand, antagonizing with that of Boulogne. Like Tigris Mystic before them, K-Soce Team responded to the racism in the stadium by clashing with Boulogne hooligans.
Politicians had long been looking for a scapegoat and finally found it when Boulogne Boys outraged France in March 2008 during the 2008 Coupe de la Ligue Final. They unfurled a banner which referred to Lens fans as pedophiles, jobless and incestuous. The banner was certainly offensive, but it was its timing that ultimately sealed the fate of the ultra group. Recently elected French president Nicolas Sarkozy was in attendance that evening. He had promised back in 2006 that, if he won the elections, he would rid PSG of racists and hooligans. Sadly for Boys, they gave him the perfect excuse to start. The French government dissolved them in April 2008; it was the end of one of the most legendary supporters' group in France.
"This Is The End"Edit
With Boulogne Boys gone, the club lost a mediator between Boulogne and Auteuil, as well as a controlling force over Casual Firm, Commando Loubard and Milice Paris hooligans. In December 2009, hostilities reignited in an away match at Bordeaux, when a Boulogne member exhibited a flag with a Celtic cross while surrounded by Auteuil fans, who then attacked him. He turned out to be an influential figure in the KoB and promised revenge on Auteuil.
In January 2010, members of Supras Auteuil were attacked by Boulogne hooligans in Lille. Days later, during the next match against Monaco at Parc des Princes, the KoB mocked Supras Auteuil by chanting "Supras, Supras, we fucked you." But, unlike Tigris Mystic in 2005–06, Supras Auteuil had the support of Grinta and Authentiks. Both stands clashed again in February 2010 before a match against Marseille. After yet another attack from Boulogne hooligans, the aforementioned Auteuil groups led a countercharge which culminated in the lynching of KoB member Yann Lorence.
The club immediately reacted by banning all its fans from travelling to away games. In April 2010, the French government dissolved five PSG supporters' groups : Commando Loubard and Milice Paris of Boulogne, Supras Auteuil and Grinta of Auteuil, and Authentiks of the Paris stand. PSG president Robin Leproux began to work on an anti-violence plan called Tous PSG (All PSG) in May 2010. It became known as Plan Leproux.
Auteuil groups Lutèce Falco, Kriek and Karsud organized peaceful march in response. On 15 May 2010, around 1,000 supporters descended on Parc des Princes before the club's last match of the 2009–10 season against Montpellier that same day. During the game, groups from Auteuil and Boulogne displayed one last act of defiance, throwing hundreds of red distress flares to the pitch, forcing play to be halted for several minutes. Lutèce Falco also unfurled a banner which simply stated "This Is The End." For twelve of these groups this was their last appearance at the stadium as they decided to disband afterwards due to intense repression and media persecution: Casual Firm, Gavroches, Layache, Paris Assas Club, Rangers, Section Cigogne and Tifo e Stupido from Boulogne; Kriek, Lutèce Falco and Titans from Auteuil; Brigade Paris and Puissance Paris from the Paris stand.
Liberté Pour les AbonnésEdit
Plan Leproux was announced later that week, marking the end of the 13,000 supporters grouped in Auteuil and Boulogne, of which only 400 were hooligans. It made PSG and Parc des Princes pay the price in terms of atmosphere, with one of Europe's most feared venues now subdued. Many of the supporters who were frozen out by the club formed a group called Liberté Pour les Abonnés (Freedom for Season Ticket Holders) and boycotted matches until they could again choose where to sit.
The club, meanwhile, continued its pre-season reformation of Auteuil and Boulogne, removing murals and commemorative plaques dedicated to supporters' groups, deceased members and former players. The transition wasn't smooth. 22,689 spectators showed up for PSG's first match of the 2010–11 season, and attendance remained low. By January 2011, PSG allowed supporters' groups in the stands again, as long as they signed the Charte 12, a list of strict rules and regulations. The first group to agree to Charte 12 was Hoolicool, followed by Titi-Fosi and Vikings 27. But none of these groups were located in Auteuil or Boulogne. PSG also partnered with anti-racism organization SOS Racisme to help run security at matches and keep track of any racist behaviour.
In May 2011, ahead of the 2011–12 season, the State of Qatar bought PSG through its shareholding organization Qatar Sports Investments (QSI). Attendance levels soared thanks to big-money signings like Javier Pastore and a promising UEFA Champions League project to make PSG a big European team. Liberté Pour les Abonnés welcomed the Qatari owners and their efforts, but maintained that a big club was nothing without their fanbase.
As soon as they arrived, however, QSI further developed Plan Leproux by elaborating a blacklist of PSG supporters banned from the club's games. Considered illegal by the National Commission on Informatics and Liberty, the French government validated the controversial document in April 2015. Police and all French clubs have access to the list for them to prevent these fans from purchasing tickets for PSG home or away matches.
Women and ultrasEdit
Between 2010 and 2016, with the impossibility for the ultras to support the men's team at home or away, the PSG faithful turned to Paris Saint-Germain Féminine, and to a lesser extent to the Paris Saint-Germain Youth Academy sides, being the very rare case of fan groups supporting their club's women's team. Liberté Pour les Abonnés and Nautecia, which were among several groups that reunited Boulogne and Auteuil supporters, were behind this initiative. PSG ultras have also occasionally attended big matches of the club's handball team, Paris Saint-Germain Handball, ever since it was bought by PSG owners Qatar Sports Investments (QSI) in 2012.
"With our return to the men's team matches, we must admit that we now have less time to go encourage the women. But we're not going to let them down because of this. It's nice to show them that we haven't forgotten them."— Axel, spokesman of Nautecia, in March 2017.
In 2010, unlike some fans who decided to cheer for other Parisian clubs such as Paris FC or Créteil, Liberté Pour les Abonnés and Nautecia noticed there wasn't much enthusiasm around the women and chose to stay with PSG by supporting them in France and abroad, from league clashes against rivals Olympique Lyonnais to the 2015 UEFA Women's Champions League Final in Berlin.
A marriage of convenience at first, the ultras began to really enjoy supporting the women for three main reasons: their proximity compared to the men, being able to easily approach female players; their appreciation for the fans, always thanking them after every match; and their solidarity with the ultra movement, publicly supporting a return to Parc des Princes for men's team games in interviews and social media, in contrast to male players whose communication was more controlled by the club.
Even after being allowed back into the stadium in 2016, they have continued to support the women under the banner of Collectif Ultras Paris (CUP). In March 2017, they attended the Champions League quarterfinals return game against Bayern Munich at Parc des Princes. They were also part of the record 19,192 spectators in attendance for the semifinals against Barcelona the following month. Later that same season, 300 PSG ultras cheered the team during the 2017 UEFA Women's Champions League Final against Lyon in Cardiff in June 2017.
Collectif Ultras ParisEdit
Parc des Princes returnEdit
The Parisian ultra movement slowly began to reassemble. The remaining supporters' groups met the team in front of the training ground whenever possible and went to away games, usually outside France. Many of these associations would then join forces and form the Collectif Ultras Paris (CUP) in February 2016 with the aim of returning to Parc des Princes. The groups in question were former Virage Auteuil associations K-Soce Team, Microbes Paris, Parias Cohortis and Karsud, as well as those created after the implementation of Plan Leproux: Liberté Pour les Abonnés, Lista Nera Paris, Nautecia and Le Combat Continue. Former Kop of Boulogne groups were also invited, but they declined to partake in the CUP initiative as an entity. Despite this, former Boulogne supporters are in the CUP as individuals. Romain Mabille, member of K-Soce Team, was elected president of the CUP a few weeks after its foundation.
PSG and the CUP first agreed a Parc des Princes return for the club's 2–0 victory over Bordeaux in Ligue 1 at the start of October. Around 150 ultras were allowed to enter the Auteuil stand and the stadium saw supporters encouraging for the whole game after six years of absence. The spark flew over to the Boulogne end, too, and both stands even exchanged chants just like they used to do before the Boulogne and Auteuil war: "Boulogne is Paris," "Auteuil is Paris." The club believed that the lack of enthusiasm in the stadium was partially guilty for their recurring, disappointing early exits from the UEFA Champions League, so PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi and prominent players, including team captain Thiago Silva, pushed for the return of the ultras. Grouped in the Auteuil end of the stadium, the CUP is the only ultra association officially recognized by PSG and has around 3,000 members.
Internal disputes and boycottEdit
A new group, Ultras Paname, joined the CUP in April 2017. A month later, however, Lista Nera Paris and Microbes Paris left the CUP due to internal disagreements and self-dissolved, while Karsud was excluded from the group and continued on their own. In August 2017, the club allowed the CUP to hold season tickets together in the Auteuil end for the first time since 2010. In June 2018, the club gave the CUP permission to remake the murals inside the corridors of the Virage Auteuil. Supporters began making them in 2005, but were erased in 2010 as part of Plan Leproux. These paintings paid tribute to iconic players, ultra groups and deceased members. The following month, PSG also authorized the CUP to unfurl the group's own banner on the billboards of the upper part of Auteuil. Other highlights were two Dragon Ball tifos featuring Goku and Shenlong to welcome the players in February 2018 and October 2019.
Tensions between PSG and the CUP resurfaced in late October 2019, when the latter announced a boycott of all club matches until further notice after, according to the group's statement, "yet another act of provocation orchestrated by people who have never digested the return of the ultras." The following day, the CUP protested in front of the PSG headquarters and skipped the team's next match, a decision copied by Boulogne groups Block Parisii and Paname Rebirth. The ultras demanded the departure of both security company OLIPS from the Auteuil stand and two PSG employees, including Jerome Sursin, the club's assistant security director and former Kop of Boulogne member. In November 2019, OLIPS announced the end of its collaboration with PSG, which in turn maintained the two employees targeted by their ultras. Nevertheless, the CUP put an end to their boycott.
Cavani controversy and Mabille's departureEdit
In early October 2020, CUP president and leader of subgroup K-Soce Team, Romain Mabille, announced his departure from the ultra group he had led since its creation in 2016. His decision came after internal differences within the CUP. The banners deployed across Paris before September's Le Classique sparked tensions between the subgroups because they weren't collectively debated and validated. Mabille and K-Soce were not involved in this action, which notably aroused indignation from French Sports Minister Roxana Mărăcineanu.
However, Mabille's exit had more to do with his stance over PSG idol Edinson Cavani, whose controversial departure from the club had left the CUP divided. Worshipped by the ultras, "El Matador" surprisingly decided against signing a short-term contract extension to play the remaining matches of the coronavirus-stricken 2019–20 UEFA Champions League with the team. Feeling mistreated by the club, Cavani left without acknowledging his time at PSG or even thanking the supporters. Cavani eventually said his goodbyes, but the unilateral decision of a CUP subgroup to praise the Uruguayan striker with a banner was apparently the last straw for Mabille, who was amongst those opposed to pay him tribute.
Nicolas Boffredo, a K-Soce Team affiliate like Mabille, was elected as the new president a few days later. Nicknamed "Bobo," he has attended PSG matches since he was 9 years old. He joined the ultra movement in the 2000s, first frequenting the Virage Auteuil and then becoming a member of the Supras Auteuil in 2002. Thereafter, Boffredo has also been known as "Monsieur Tifos" for imagining, organising and making tifos for every ultra group he has been part of. Indeed, he would go on to be a founding member of both the K-Soce Team in 2007 and the CUP in 2016.
New groups in BoulogneEdit
In September 2017, the first Boulogne supporters' group since Plan Leproux, Block Parisii, was born. They were soon joined by Paname Rebirth in 2018 and Résistance Parisienne in 2019. These new associations, which according to their leaders are not linked with former Boulogne groups, aim to convince the club of relaunching the Kop of Boulogne, in the same way they did with the Virage Auteuil and the Collectif Ultras Paris. PSG has not officially recognize these groups out of fear of provoking a new war between Boulogne and Auteuil.
Indeed, the relationship with the CUP didn't start well, with the latter stealing part of Block Parisii's paraphernalia before returning them. The CUP initially believed that, like former Boulogne groups, the Block were also made of far-right extremists and racists. However, exchanges during away games smoothed the situation as the CUP realized that the new group has an apolitical, nonreligious and anti-violence stance, and its members are Arab, black and white. In March 2018, during PSG's UEFA Champions League tie against Real Madrid at Parc des Princes, both groups collaborated. Several CUP ultras took place in the Boulogne stand to chant alongside Block members.
Hooliganism and racismEdit
Most Kop of Boulogne (KoB) supporters were poor disaffected white men who made this stand their meeting point thank to its low admission fees. Some of them were influenced by English casual culture. Typified by hooliganism and the wearing of expensive designer clothing, this culture was exported by Liverpool fans in the late 1970s and early 1980s. As a result, the Boulogne stand developed into the home of French hooliganism in the mid-1980s. Rival fans, who had always sat in Boulogne, had to be moved across the field to Auteuil, which became the away stand until 1991. This prompted KoB hooligans to form away parties that sneaked through the stands and attacked the visitors.
PSG's first hooligan firm, Commando Pirate, was founded in 1986, followed by violent ultra group Firebirds later that same year. Infiltrated by far-right extremists since the mid-1980s, the Kop of Boulogne became overtly racist in 1989 with the creation of hooligan firm Pitbull Kop by Serge Ayoub, leader of French far-right association Revolutionary Nationalist Youth (JNR), which advocated violence and white supremacy. In consequence, the KoB turned into a white-only stand with racist chants (such as "France for the French"), signs, and Nazi salutes as regular features. Pitbull Kop quickly disbanded in 1992, but its racist legacy continued in the stand.
Hooligan group Army Korps was founded in 1991 and they would partake in one of French football's darkest moments two years later. The Caen incident in 1993 led to the dissolution of Commando Pirate, Army Korps and Firebirds by Sports minister Michèle Alliot-Marie. Casual Firm and Indépendants Boulogne Rouge (IBR) quickly filled their void in December 1993. These groups were behind most violent episodes of the 1990s. IBR self-dissolved in 2000, but Casual Firm were later joined by Commando Loubard in 2003 and Milice Paris in 2006. The latter two were dissolved by the French government in April 2010, while Casual Firm disbanded a month later.
Created by the club in 1991 to counteract the racism in the stadium, the racially mixed and anti-racist Virage Auteuil stand eventually superseded the less visually impressive and more violent Kop of Boulogne. Nonetheless, Auteuil wasn't exempt from hooliganism and its first hooligan firm, Karsud, was founded in 1994. A few members of Tigris Mystic, initially a peaceful fan group created in 1993, slowly turned into hooligans too, clashing with thugs from other teams as well as those from the KoB and even against Auteuil peers Karsud.
Unlike their politicized peers in the Boulogne stand, Auteuil hooligans started off as purists of urban violence. Simply put, they were apolitical at first. Over time they adopted left-wing ideas which radically opposed the KoB's far-right leanings, and a deadly conflict arose between the two stands during the 2000s. In July 2006, after several months of clashes with Boulogne hooligans, Tigris Mystic declared it self-dissolved. On the other hand, Karsud carried on and are currently the club's only group with hooligans' behaviours still on activity. PSG hooligans were among the most active in Europe until the club enforced a major anti-violence plan in 2010.
Before Plan LeprouxEdit
The first hooligan incidents from Paris Saint-Germain supporters took place during an away game against Nancy in January 1977. Since then, they have clashed with hooligans from all over France, most notably those from big teams such as Saint-Étienne, Nantes, Olympique Lyonnais, Nice and hated Le Classique arch-rivals Olympique de Marseille. PSG radicals have also fought fans from smaller sides like Bastia, Auxerre, Rennes and Tours. In February 1984, PSG goons even clashed with English hooligans on the stands of Parc des Princes during an international match between France and England, leaving dozens injured.
Boulogne hooligans were behind many racist incidents and clashes with the feared CRS riot police. In 1991, Arab fans were attacked by KoB hooligans. In August 1993, during a match against Caen, ten CRS officers were injured by PSG hooligans. The brawl began when they entered Boulogne to arrest a fan. Once inside, KoB thugs swarmed over the outnumbered policemen and kicked one of them into a coma. In January 2006, two Arab youths were assaulted by Boulogne thugs outside the entrance to the stand during a match against Sochaux. A few months later, six KoB hooligans ambushed a black man after a match at Le Mans in November. Two of the assailants received prison sentences. They also racially abused some of their own non-white players, most notably Afro-French goalkeeper Bernard Lama, Liberian striker George Weah and French midfielder of Indian origin Vikash Dhorasoo.
Progress in European competition during the 1990s and 2000s saw even more vicious fighting. The Parisian hooligans clashed with opposing thugs from Juventus, Anderlecht, Galatasaray, Chelsea, Arsenal, Bayern Munich, Rangers, CSKA Moscow, Hapoel Tel Aviv and Twente. Even worse, the club's own supporters had turned on each other as well. Following the deaths of two PSG fans, the club implemented an anti-violence plan in May 2010. Officially called Tous PSG (All PSG), but known by supporters as Plan Leproux, it exiled all fan groups from Parc des Princes and banned them from all club matches.
After Plan LeprouxEdit
Fan violence largely decreased after Plan Leproux, but incidents still occur. In May 2013, the club's league title celebrations at Trocadero plaza were cut short following fighting between PSG fans and riot police, leaving 30 people injured and leading to 21 arrests. In August 2012, Zlatan Ibrahimović's presentation saw clashes among rival factions of PSG supporters. Between 2010 and 2016, PSG fans also brawled with supporters of Dinamo Zagreb, Bayer Leverkusen and Chelsea. Following years of demonstrations against Plan Leproux, several fan groups formed the Collectif Ultras Paris (CUP) in February 2016. The club allowed their long-awaited comeback in October 2016 for PSG's 2–0 home league win over Bordeaux.
The first incidents since their return occurred in April 2017. Some PSG ultras caused damage to areas of Parc Olympique Lyonnais during the 2017 Coupe de la Ligue Final, and the first cracks appeared in the Collectif Ultras Paris. A month later, Lista Nera Paris and Microbes Paris dissociated themselves from the CUP. A third association, Karsud, was excluded from the ultra group. CUP president, Romain Mabille, would later refer to Karsud members as "hooligans who didn't want to respect the code of conduct agreed with the club." Ever since then, members of the CUP, mainly those from leading subgroup K-Soce Team, and Karsud have been in conflict.
In October 2018, the CUP fought with Karsud and twinned Red Star Belgrade hooligan firm Delije near Parc des Princes after a 2018–19 UEFA Champions League group stage match. PSG reacted by imposing a one-year stadium ban and cancelling season tickets to the 100 CUP members involved, most of them issued from K-Soce Team. Affiliates of the latter association made headlines again in November 2019 when they attacked spectators who were wearing Olympique de Marseille jerseys or tracksuits during Marseille rapper Jul's concert at AccorHotels Arena. The CUP and Karsud have also clashed separately with thugs from Bayern Munich, Club Brugge, and Nantes.
Paris Saint-Germain supporters share intense rivalries with fans from Olympique de Marseille, Juventus, Anderlecht, Galatasaray and Chelsea. Since PSG and Marseille also have a fierce sporting rivalry, known as Le Classique, incidents have been more frequent. Among the most notable are the 146 arrests and nine policemen hospitalised during the French Cup semifinals in April 1995, the Marseille supporter who was left paralysed for life in October 2000 after being struck by a flying seat, and the PSG fan who was hit by a car in October 2009.
The rivalry between Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus supporters began in October 1983. PSG welcomed the Bianconeri in Paris for the 1983–84 European Cup Winners' Cup second round. During the match, Kop of Boulogne hooligans invaded the away stand and violently attacked the Italian ultras. They brawled again in the 1989–90 UEFA Cup last 16 and the 1992–93 UEFA Cup semifinals. In April 1993, Juventus hooligans unfurled a banner aimed at their PSG counterparts at the Stadio delle Alpi. So, before the return match at Parc des Princes two weeks later, PSG troublemakers were looking for payback. One Juve supporter was beaten unconscious.
Prior to their 1992–93 UEFA Cup third round tie in November 1992 at Parc des Princes, dissolved Boulogne hooligan firm Commando Pirate had a twinning with Anderlecht ultra group O'Side since the early 1980s, and they would occasionally fight together against common enemies. But when O'Side attacked Virage Auteuil members, who were under the wing of Boulogne back then, everything changed. Commando Pirate and Boulogne peers Army Korps came to help Auteuil, severely injuring two Anderlecht fans. Seats flew between the visitors and Auteuil ultras during the game, while Boulogne hooligans clashed again with O'Side after the final whistle.
Matches between Paris Saint-Germain and Galatasaray have been classed as high risk since their 1996–97 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup last 16 match at Parc des Princes in October 1996. Attacked by Boulogne hooligans, the Turkish supporters got the better of them and a handful of PSG fans were seriously injured. The Parisians got their revenge in March 2001 during their 2000–01 UEFA Champions League second group stage match. After being provoked, Auteuil and Boulogne hooligans, at the time on good terms, attacked the Galatasaray followers in the stands. More than fifty Turks had to be hospitalized in the French capital. In December 2019, both teams met in Paris for the 2019–20 UEFA Champions League group stages and violence erupted in the streets, leaving one PSG fan with a head trauma and one Galatasaray supporter with a hand injury. During the match, PSG ultras mocked Galatasaray's elimination with a banner.
But it was their attack on Chelsea hooligan firm Chelsea Headhunters that earned PSG hooligans high praise on web sites dedicated to football violence. In September 2004, a 150-strong PSG mob assaulted around 50 Chelsea hooligans before their 2004–05 UEFA Champions League group stage match in Paris, sparking a rivalry that still stands today. Both teams met again in the 2013–14 UEFA Champions League quarter-finals. Before the first-leg match at Parc des Princes in April 2014, about 100 fans from each team, including members of former Boulogne hooligan firms, fought in a tourist area of the French capital. Two fans were injured.
Following a humiliating 4–2 loss in the UEFA Cup to Israeli club Hapoel Tel Aviv at Parc des Princes, PSG hooligans took the streets and targeted Jewish fans. A French-Jewish supporter of Hapoel, Yaniv Hazout, was surrounded, threatened and subjected to a barrage of racial abuse, when a plain-clothes black police officer, Antoine Granomort, stepped in to help him. Granomort wasn't wearing a police uniform and PSG radicals attacked him. He tried to break up the group with tear gas but was overpowered. Granomort then fired one shot, seriously injuring Mounir Boujaer before killing Julien Quemener.
This episode shocked France. It was only the second fan-related death in the country after that of 1984 when a supporter was killed by a flare. Public opinion blamed the KoB, known for its racist and violent fans since the late 1970s. In turn, PSG supporters and French fans in general considered Quemener a martyr and demanded an inquiry. Prior to PSG's match at Nantes three days after the incident, Boulogne Boys paid their respects to Quemener by marching through the city to the stadium.
Initially, police said Julien Quemener was a member of Boulogne Boys and that this group had links to PSG's violent far-right fans in the KoB. Boys quickly denied the allegations. Later developments in the investigation showed that Quemener was close to Boulogne hooligan firms (Casual Firm, Commando Loubard and Milice Paris) and not Boulogne Boys. In February 2011, after more than four years of investigation, Antoine Granomort was acquitted of murder on the grounds of self-defence.
In February 2010, two hours before PSG's 3–0 home defeat to Marseille, the fratricidal war between Boulogne and Auteuil reached a point of no return. A large group of Boulogne hooligans attacked supporters from Auteuil, chasing them toward their entrance into the stadium, all under the eyes of CRS riot police officers, who didn't intervene. Alerted by the situation, many Auteuil fans who were already inside the stadium left the stand to lead a counter charge, which ended in the lynching of Casual Firm member Yann Lorence.
The original reports from the press claimed that Yann Lorence was peacefully leaving a bar when he was attacked by Auteuil fans. For his part, PSG president Robin Leproux said that Lorence had been caught in the middle of the brawl. Boulogne sources defended these theories, saying Lorence had distanced himself from Casual Firm a while back. Auteuil sources, on the other hand, denied these allegations and affirmed that Lorence was indeed part of the fight.
Whatever the case, Lorence died of his injuries in March 2010. His death marked the end of Kop of Boulogne and Virage Auteuil as they had been known. Within the following two months, the French government dissolved several Parisian supporters' groups and the club implemented Plan Leproux, which banned the remaining fan associations from all PSG matches. Two men, Jeremy Banh and Romain Lafon, were subsequently charged with involuntary homicide. Lafon denied his involvement in the incident, whereas Banh admitted in police questioning kicking the victim before withdrawing from the fight. In November 2016, Banh was convicted of killing Lorence and received a five-year jail term, while Lafon was acquitted.
Friendships with other fansEdit
Despite their extensive history of hooliganism, Paris Saint-Germain supporters' groups have good relationships or twinnings with several fan associations from other clubs. However, due to the never-ending violent rivalry between PSG fan groups from Kop of Boulogne and Virage Auteuil, as well as the recent enmity between the Collectif Ultras Paris (CUP) and Karsud, twinned supporters have often choose sides in these conflicts. The relationships with Napoli, Hellas Verona and Red Star Belgrade are the perfect examples of this.
Former Boulogne far-right groups are twinned with the ultras of Hellas Verona, while the CUP created a twinning with Napoli's Curva B tifosi in 2017. Both sets of Italian fans don't get along, though. So, after Napoli defeated Hellas in Verona in August 2017, the Hellas Verona ultras — alongside PSG, Lazio and Kaiserslautern hooligans — organized an assault against Napoli's Curva B supporters, their common enemy. Only the work of police forces managed to thwart the aggression. Far-right groups from Metz and hooligan firms from Toulouse (Viola Front, Gitania Tolosa, Camside) are also twinned with now-dissolved KoB associations.
Red Star ultras Delije, for their part, are twinned with Auteuil hooligan firm Karsud as well as former Boulogne hooligan groups. Karsud's link with Delije comes from the fact that some of their leaders have Serbian origin, and they frequently display Serbian flags during PSG games. In October 2018, after the 2018–19 UEFA Champions League group stage match between Paris Saint-Germain and Red Star Belgrade at Parc des Princes, Delije hooligans assaulted members of the Collectif Ultras Paris near the stadium. The reason behind the attack was that Karsud has been in conflict with the CUP ever since they were expelled from the latter group in May 2017.
Celtic and LiverpoolEdit
Though rarely on the same page, Auteuil and Boulogne both respected fans from Celtic and Liverpool since they are two of the most important referents within the supporter movement. Celtic's visual approach was an inspiration for Auteuil and ultra groups in general, while Boulogne's history was strongly linked with Liverpool. Back in 1978, PSG supporters created the Kop of Boulogne stand in tribute to the famous Spion Kop stand in Anfield that groups Liverpool's ultras. Moreover, Celtic and Liverpool fanbases also share many traits, most notably the anthem "You'll Never Walk Alone." Therefore, these were the only two exceptions in which both Auteuil and Boulogne agreed to fraternize with the same rival supporters.
When PSG defeated Celtic at Parc des Princes for the second round of the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup in October 1995, the Scottish supporters applauded Auteuil at the end of the match to which the PSG ultras responded by chanting "Celtic! Celtic! Celtic!" during several minutes. In September 2017, the two teams met again in the 2017–18 UEFA Champions League group stages. After the final whistle at Celtic Park, PSG fans repeated the Celtic chant, while the Scots congratulated them for the win. The return leg in Paris was no different. First, both fanbases played a match under the Eiffel Tower and then PSG supporters unfurled a giant banner at Parc des Princes with the message "You’ll Never Walk Alone."
When Liverpool played Paris Saint-Germain in the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup semifinals at Parc des Princes in April 1997, Auteuil presented a banner that read "Welcome to the Legendary Fans" and Liverpool's hymn "You'll Never Walk Alone" was respected by both stands when their English counterparts sang it during the game. PSG and Liverpool faced each other again in the 2018–19 UEFA Champions League group stages in September 2018. Known for its intimidating atmosphere and noisy supporters, Anfield welcomed 2,500 Parisian ultras from the CUP who were able to make themselves heard and sometimes even more than the 50,000 supporters of the Reds. After the end of the game, the Liverpool faithful greeted their counterparts with a warm applause.
Auteuil and CUP twinningsEdit
Historically, former Auteuil groups and Collectif Ultras Paris subgroups (grouped in the Auteuil stand as well) have been less confrontational than Boulogne supporters. As a result, they have fraternized with more fans from rival teams than their KoB counterparts. In fact, every major group in Auteuil (Supras Auteuil, Lutèce Falco and Tigris Mystic), as well as ally association Authentiks from the nearby Paris stand, had twinnings with supporters from other clubs.
Supras Auteuil twinned with Köln ultra group Wilde Horde 96 in 2003. Even after the dissolution of Supras in 2010, the Germans have continued to pay them tribute. In October 2018, during a Köln home match, they unfurled a banner that read "25 years of ultra mentality" in celebration of the 25th anniversary of Supras Auteuil, founded in 1991. Likewise, Authentiks were twinned with supporters of Copenhagen, while Lutèce Falco had friendships with fans of Derry City, whom PSG met in the 2006–07 UEFA Cup first round in September 2006, and Celtic.
Finally, Tigris Mystic twinned with Toulon's Irréductibles in 2001 driven by their reciprocal hatred towards Olympique de Marseille. Both groups assisted to matches together in the past, including one against Toulouse in 2005 where the Irréductibles even unfurled their own banner in Auteuil. This twinning was continued by the CUP. In February 2019, Irréductibles members attended PSG's home match against Nîmes and unfurled a banner in honor of the once-banned PSG fans, who responded with a warm applause and a chant dedicated to the glory of Toulon. Leading CUP subgroup, K-Soce Team, twinned with Brazilian club Fluminense's ultra groups Sobranada 1902 and Young Flu in 2012 and with Italian side Napoli's Curva B supporters in 2017. These groups have since attended matches from each other together, even unfurling their own banners.
Relationship with playersEdit
Paris Saint-Germain supporters have seen many great players who have lastingly marked the club's history. Some of them have become fan favorites, including, among others, Jean-Pierre Dogliani in the 1970s; Mustapha Dahleb, Safet Sušić and Jean-Marc Pilorget in the 1980s; Bernard Lama, David Ginola, George Weah and Raí in the 1990s; Ronaldinho and Pauleta in the 2000s; and Zlatan Ibrahimović, Thiago Silva and Edinson Cavani in the 2010s.
Historic goals have been a decisive factor in becoming an idol for the fans. Antoine Kombouaré was nicknamed "Gold Helmet" after his last-gasp header against Real Madrid that sent PSG through to the UEFA Cup semifinals in 1993. Three years later, Bruno N'Gotty netted a long-range free kick in the 1996 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup Final against Rapid Wien which gave PSG their only major European title to date. Last but not least, Amara Diané saved PSG from relegation to Ligue 2 on the final match of the 2007–08 season by scoring both goals in their 2–1 win at Sochaux.
A few players are revered by the Parisian supporters for both their achievements on and off the field. A big Paris Saint-Germain fan, Luis Fernández came through the youth ranks, became team captain and was part of the squad that won the club's first major trophies in the 1980s. He then returned as coach during PSG's golden era in the 1990s, leading them to the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup in 1996. Leonardo, for his part, played just one season in the French capital but it was enough for the fans to remember him. He came back in 2011 as sporting director during the Qatari era, signing the next generation of fan favorites.
Like Ronaldinho, other players have also remained in the memory of PSG supporters thanks to their showmanship or talent despite not staying long at the club nor winning many titles. This is the case of Marco Simone, Jay-Jay Okocha, Nenê and Mikel Arteta. Okocha and Nenê are mostly remembered for their dribbling and fantastic goals, while Simone and Arteta delighted PSG fans with their goalscoring abilities and elegant technique, respectively. Finally, Jérôme Rothen, Blaise Matuidi and Mamadou Sakho became darlings of the Parc des Princes faithful due to their strong attachment to the Parisian club. In fact, all three of them have been PSG fans since they were kids. Rothen rejected Barcelona, Juventus and Chelsea in 2004 to join dream club Paris Saint-Germain. After his transfer to Liverpool in 2013, beloved youth academy graduate Sakho came back to bid farewell to the club and thank the supporters before a PSG home match. Matuidi is held in high regard because he offered his support for the return of the banned PSG ultras in 2016.
Heroes and villainsEdit
Signing for MarseilleEdit
Several Parisian players went from fan favorites to "traitors" during the 2000s after joining Le Classique arch-rivals Olympique de Marseille directly from PSG. PSG captain Frédéric Déhu and Fabrice Fiorèse were the first to experience this in 2004. Youth academy idol Lorik Cana and Modeste M'bami followed suit in 2005 and 2006, respectively. Then it was Gabriel Heinze in 2009. He signed for l'OM despite saying he never would in the past. Whenever they returned to play at Parc des Princes, PSG supporters welcomed them with insults, whistles and hostile banners, including one that read "Déhu, Fiorèse, Cana, M'bami, the list of whores keeps growing, Anigo open up your brothel!" José Anigo was Marseille's sporting director at the time.
In 1995, George Weah fell out with the fans despite winning the Ballon d'Or, in part, for his European performances with PSG that year. The Liberian striker led Paris to the 1994–95 UEFA Champions League semifinals against future club A.C. Milan. Weah, however, was nonexistent against the Rossoneri as PSG lost both matches. Additionally, he told reporters after the return match that he wanted to sign for Milan next season. Parisian fans accused him of making a subpar display since he wanted to leave for the Italian club.
During Weah's final game at Parc des Princes, with his transfer to Milan confirmed, Kop of Boulogne supporters insulted him and made monkey sounds every time he touched the ball. Hooligan firm Casual Firm unfurled a racist banner that read "Weah, we don't need you" written with Celtic crosses and other neo-Nazi symbols. Around the same time, white midfielder David Ginola also expressed his desire to leave the club, but did not receive the same treatment.
Weah would later join Marseille, causing greater unrest with PSG fans. In 2011, during Bernard Lama's testimonial match at Parc des Princes, he told reporters that for him "PSG's shirt is as valuable as that of l'OM." Weah added that he didn't have a good memory of the stadium and that he was there only to honor his friend Lama. In spite of this, most PSG supporters still consider him as a legendary player.
Racist fans in the KoB have targeted other non-white PSG players as well. They taunted black French international goalkeeper Bernard Lama when he arrived in 1992 to replace white idol Joël Bats, whistling him and displaying swastikas during games. However, Lama would then become a fan favorite and club legend for his performances. In fact, during his last match, KoB supporters refused to leave the stadium until Lama came to greet them. Vikash Dhorasoo, a France international of Indian origin, was told by a Boulogne fan to "go sell peanuts in the metro" during a game in 2006. His short stint with PSG was indeed pretty eventful. Dhorasoo scored the 2006 Coupe de France Final title-winner against Marseille before being sacked by the club following his criticism of coach Guy Lacombe.
Unlike George Weah before him, and later Adrien Rabiot, Serbian striker Mateja Kežman never even won over the PSG supporters in the first place. In fact, he is one of the most unpopular figures to have ever played for the club. He was at Parc des Princes between 2008 and 2010, scoring just five times across all competitions. Often jeered by fans who were dissatisfied with his on-pitch performances, Kežman reacted in the worst possible way in February 2009. With the Parisians trailing Bordeaux 1–0 at home in the League Cup semi-finals, Kežman was substituted after yet another poor display. Booed on his way off the pitch, he took off his shirt and threw it to the floor before disappearing down the tunnel. The club suspended him for two weeks and from that moment on Kežman was booed mercilessly until his last day in Paris.
The fall out of youth product Adrien Rabiot with PSG fans in 2018 was almost identical to that of George Weah; a huge fan favorite who wanted to join an Italian club. But, really, Rabiot's fall from grace with the supporters was due to his selfish attitude throughout his PSG career, permanently complaining about his position on the field or threatening to leave for not playing enough, as well as endless contract talks every time the club made him a renewal offer. When it became clear Rabiot would not sign a new contract, the Parisian ultras unfurled a banner directed at him during an away match at Ligue 2 side Orléans. It read: "Rabiot, we don't need you." He was subsequently frozen out by the club for the remainder of the 2018–19 season and then signed with Juventus when his contract expired in the summer of 2019.
Love turns into hateEdit
Sought after to help Paris win the UEFA Champions League, the club paid Barcelona a world-record €222m in August 2017 for Neymar, who was welcomed with much fanfare by PSG ultras during his unveiling at Parc des Princes. The Brazilian, however, hasn't lived up to the expectations during his two seasons at the club. Although he has performed well for PSG when fit, he has also missed half of the team's games through injury, including several crucial Champions League games, leaving fans frustrated and with a taste of unfinished business.
Shortly after his arrival, the Santos youth product also drew the ire of PSG supporters when he fell out with fan favorite Edinson Cavani during a Ligue 1 game against Olympique Lyonnais in September 2017. First, Dani Alves took the ball out of Cavani's hands and gave it to Neymar to take a free-kick. Later in the game, PSG were given a penalty and a brief argument ensued between them over who should take it. Cavani prevailed but his shot was saved by Lyon goalkeeper Anthony Lopes.
The São Paulo native then damaged their relationship further when PSG faced Dijon in January 2018. Leading 7–0, the Parisians were awarded a spot-kick as the Parc des Princes faithful made clear they wanted Cavani to take it and become PSG's all-time top-scorer. Neymar went against their wishes, though, and slotted home the penalty amongst whistles and chants of "Cavani, Cavani." Despite explaining he was just following the manager's orders, fans still believed it was a selfish move from his part.
But his desire for a Barcelona return in 2019 was the final straw for PSG ultra group Collectif Ultras Paris (CUP). Feeling he had "humiliated" their club, the ultras handed out flyers which described Neymar as "the most disgusting player in PSG history" and chanted "Neymar, son of a bitch" during the first home match of the 2019–20 season in August 2019. They also held two insulting banners, one urging him to "get lost" and another mocking his alleged rape case.
Road to redemptionEdit
When the transfer fell threw, his comeback game against Strasbourg at Parc des Princes in September 2019 was even worse. Once again, PSG ultras greeted Neymar with chants that he is a "son of a bitch", accompanied by boos every time he touched the ball and two more banners. One read "€20m to join Messi, no more whores in Paris," in reference to Neymar's attempt to put €20m from his own pocket in order to join Lionel Messi and Barcelona; the other prompted Neymar Senior to sell his son in Vila Mimosa, a notorious prostitution area of Rio de Janeiro. Neymar responded by scoring a stunning last-minute bicycle kick to beat Strasbourg 1–0, but PSG ultras still jeered him.
The CUP continued to whistle him most of 2019 despite several winning goals as well as great performances and an overall conciliatory attitude. In December, however, PSG's home win against Galatasaray marked a turning point after Neymar finally made peace with Cavani. With PSG leading 4–0, the referee signalled to the penalty spot. The Paulista took the ball and personally handed it to the Uruguayan, who was in need of a confidence boost after his recent fitness struggles and goalscoring drought. Cavani scored and Neymar embraced him. PSG's next home match against Amiens later that month was the first time since his summer transfer saga that Neymar wasn't whistled by the CUP.
In late February 2020, PSG lost 2–1 away to Borussia Dortmund in the first leg of the 2019–20 UEFA Champions League last-16, a result that left them on the brink of elimination for the fourth consecutive year at the same stage. During PSG's next home match against Bordeaux, the CUP complained about the team's poor performance by unveiling a scathing banner directed at club captain Thiago Silva and the world's two most expensive players, Neymar and Kylian Mbappé. It read as follows: "Kombouaré, Gino, Raí, they had a winning mentality. Silva, Mbappé, Neymar – scared of winning? Grow some balls."
Neymar and company would then step up in the return match. The South American star scored the first goal and led PSG to the Champions League quarterfinals 3–2 on aggregate with a 2–0 victory over Dortmund at an empty Parc des Princes. Despite not being allowed into the stadium, around 3,000 ultras gathered outside it to cheer the team in the midst of a ban of gatherings of more than 1,000 people as French authorities tried to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. Following the final whistle, PSG players appeared on the balcony to thank their supporters with Neymar, Mbappé and Ángel Di María leading the celebrations. In August 2020, after Neymar guided PSG to the Champions League final for the first time ever, CUP leader Romain Mabille announced that they were planning to show him their appreciation for his displays and attitude throughout the season.
Even though Kylian Mbappé is a favorite for regular Paris Saint-Germain fans, his relationship with the club's ultras is rather cold. The Frenchman is one of the best players in the world, but he's not revered like Edinson Cavani. Tension between Mbappé and the Collectif Ultras Paris (CUP) has been around since he arrived from Monaco in the summer of 2017. The ultras have always felt that Mbappé, although born and raised in Paris, is not truly passionate about PSG and sees the club as a stepping stone before playing for Real Madrid. It is well known that Mbappé grew up idolising Madrid stars Cristiano Ronaldo and Zinedine Zidane, but he has also claimed several times that it was his childhood dream to play for PSG. In fact, Mbappé turned down Real to sign for the Parisians and bring the UEFA Champions League title to the Parc des Princes.
The CUP also have a problem with Mbappé's perceived arrogance. During the 2018–19 season, his second in the French capital, he twice argued with coach Thomas Tuchel after being substituted off, which for the supporters came across as disrespectful to his teammates on the bench. Then, following his acceptance speech upon being awarded both Ligue 1 Player and Young Player of the Season, Mbappé seemed to hint that he could leave the club, saying "maybe it's the time to take on more responsibilities, maybe at PSG, of course, or maybe elsewhere." This obviously did not sit down well with the ultras, who had questioned his lack of long-term commitment from the start and now believed it could all be a salary increase strategy. Mbappé later claimed he was misinterpreted and had "no desire to leave." He apologised to the fans, who he said "did not understand the message," adding that it was in the best interests of PSG and that "only the coach, the president and I knew what I was talking about."
That same campaign, after the shocking loss to Manchester United in the Champions League, approximately 500 ultras attended a training session where they proceeded to insult the players and Mbappé in particular, who had missed a clear chance during the match. The following season, the CUP held up a banner calling out Mbappé, Thiago Silva and Neymar for failing to 'man up' during PSG's loss away to Borussia Dortmund. Mbappé first hit back on social media alluding to his FIFA World Cup victory with an ironic post that read, "Scared of winning?" He then walked off the pitch without thanking the ultras with his teammates after producing a man-of-the-match performance in the club's next league match against Dijon.
His popularity among the Parisian ultras took another blow in the 2020 UEFA Champions League Final against Bayern Munich, with Mbappé putting up a poor display in yet another big match as well as missing a rather easy goal that would have given PSG their long-awaited European title. In November 2020, amid speculation about his future, the French star celebrated a goal against former club Monaco by kissing PSG's crest in front of the camera, a sign of strong attachment to a team within football. The goal was finally disallowed by VAR due to Mbappé being offside, but the celebration was seen by PSG fans as a message to Real Madrid and his main suitors that he wants to sign a contract extension and stay in Paris. This, coupled with Mbappé's hat-trick in the club's win away to Barcelona in the Champions League last 16 in February 2021, gave a breath of fresh air to his relationship with the supporters.
Idolised by the ultras for his commitment, passion and a genuine love for the shirt, PSG's all-time top scorer Edinson Cavani disappointed many of his admirers due to the way he left the club in June 2020. PSG offered "El Matador" the chance to extend his deal for two months so he could finish the 2019–20 UEFA Champions League, which had been rescheduled for August because of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, annoyed at how the club had treated him, the Uruguayan striker declined the offer and became a free agent. Throughout the season, PSG coach Thomas Tuchel put him aside by giving new signing Mauro Icardi more room, while sporting director Leonardo handled his departure in a clumsy and rushed way.
Nonetheless, the Collectif Ultras Paris (CUP) still wanted to pay tribute to Cavani for his seven years at the French capital and his 200 goals scored. Except that since the end of his contract, the South American walled in incomprehensible silence for PSG and his former fans. Although he would later thank them, apologising for his quietness in the process, the situation had already divided the CUP between those who thought Cavani deserved an homage and those who didn't. Romain Mabille, head of the PSG ultras, was amongst the latter and resigned his post after a CUP subgroup unilaterally decided to make a banner in Cavani's honour. Even if this episode hurt his legacy, Cavani remains a PSG legend for most fans.
Thomas Meunier was an immediate fan favourite at the Parc des Princes after his good debut 2016–17 season. Supporters were fond of his hard-working approach on the pitch, as well as his straightforward and down to earth personality off it. Meunier was even touted as a potential future team captain until he liked a tweet praising the atmosphere created by the fans of PSG arch-rivals Olympique de Marseille at the Stade Vélodrome ahead of their 2017–18 UEFA Europa League quarterfinal second leg win over RB Leipzig in April 2018.
The like enraged the Parisian fanbase, who were already sensitive by the perceived disrespectful behaviour shown by other players, most notably Neymar, towards the club and its pre-Qatari ownership history. Meunier made things worse by responding to angry PSG fans on Twitter, calling them "pseudo-supporters" and that they needed to "know their place" as fans. The Belgian right back then said that he was answerable only to the ultras because of their unwavering support. But when he refused to apologise, as demanded by the Collectif Ultras Paris (CUP), his reputation amongst the supporters never recovered and he eventually left the club under controversial circumstances in June 2020. Meunier claimed that he wanted to stay at PSG and criticised sporting director Leonardo for not renewing his contract; it was later revealed that Leonardo did not offer him a contract extension because he had already signed with Borussia Dortmund.
Anthems and mottosEdit
"Allez Paris!," recorded by Belgian actress and singer Annie Cordy in 1971, was the club's first official anthem. A PSG fan from the start, she was part of an association of hundreds of celebrities who contributed to the club's foundation in 1970. At the time, an appeal was made for anonymous people to buy subscription forms in kiosks. A year later, Cordy was named PSG's official godmother and she celebrated it by recording the aforementioned hymn.
The club's second anthem, "Allez Paris-Saint-Germain!" by Les Parisiens, was recorded in 1977, replacing Cordy's version. An initiative of historical PSG leader and music producer Charles Talar, he produced and released it under his homonym record label. The song's chorus became a popular chant among PSG supporters during games. A new version, also called "Allez Paris-Saint-Germain!," was recorded in 2010 as part of the club's 40th anniversary celebrations. Sung to the tune of "Go West" by Village People, the lyrics were rewritten with suggestions made by fans. This is the club's current official anthem. The song debuted in the 2010 edition of the Tournoi de Paris. PSG players and coach Carlo Ancelotti re-recorded it with their voices in 2012 at the request of the club's incoming Qatari owners.
"Ô Ville Lumière" ("Oh City of Light"), to the tune of "Flower of Scotland," is another veritable club anthem for PSG supporters. This chant was created by dissolved Kop of Boulogne ultra group Boulogne Boys. PSG gave it official status in 2015 when the club announced it would accompany the players' entry into the field, a tradition which began in 1992 with the song "Who Said I Would" by Phill Collins. Supporters' groups from the Boulogne and Auteuil stands have other chants as well, most notably "Le Parc est à nous" ("The Parc is ours"), "Paris est magique!" ("Paris is magical!") and "Ici, c'est Paris!" ("This is Paris!"). Both stands began exchanging these chants during PSG matches in the 1990s.
"Paris est magique!" and "Ici, c'est Paris!" are also the club's most iconic mottos or slogans. The latter was created by dissolved Virage Auteuil ultra group Supras Auteuil, which patented it as a brand in 2008. A few years later, PSG began making use of the "Ici, c'est Paris!" slogan in its marketing (banners on the stands, TV adverts, merchandise) and Supras turned down the club's offer of €2,000 for the property rights in February 2016. A legal battle ensued between PSG and the group. They finally reached an agreement in August 2019. The club will be able to continue marketing the slogan with supporters still allowed to make free use of it.
Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy is one of the club's most famous fans. He regularly attends home matches at Parc des Princes and was a key figure behind the buyout of PSG by Qatar Sports Investments (QSI) in June 2011. Other notable PSG fans include former NBA star Tony Parker; American actor Patrick Dempsey; tennis player Victoria Azarenka; judoka Teddy Riner; and record producer DJ Snake, among many others listed below.
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