FIGAROVOX/INTERVIEW – After the violence at the Stade de France during the Champions League final last May, dozens of young people forced their way into the Booba concert on Saturday evening. Lawyer Thibault de Montbrial sees it as a symptom of systemic delinquency in France, and particularly in Seine-Saint-Denis.
Thibault de Montbrial is a lawyer at the Paris Bar and president of the Center for Reflection on Homeland Security. He published Let’s dare the authority (The Observatory, 2020) and The Surge or Chaos (Plon, 2015).
FIGAROVOX. – About sixty individuals without a ticket entered the Stade de France violently by forcing their way through on Saturday evening during the Booba concert. How did the security fail? Wasn’t this type of event foreseeable?
Thibault DE MONTBRIAL. – The question of the security of major events at the Stade de France is now systematically raised. It is up to the police to manage the outer perimeter but it is up to stadium security to take care of direct access to the enclosure (ticket control and pat-down). According to the images, it is at this level that the passage was forced by a pack of a few dozen coordinated individuals. You absolutely have to shoot the consequences of these multiple incidents and study the complex question of the tightness of access controls, provided by private security operators. This operation assumes a minimum of calm and order. If a group suddenly begins to push, stewards are inevitably overwhelmed, as they are neither numerous nor trained nor equipped to resist.
This is also the reason why there is normally a first pre-filtering to prevent people from approaching without a ticket, before access to the enclosure itself. Between the two filters, there is an area where the police or gendarmes patrol. I don’t know if such a pre-screening was in place this weekend, but if so, it almost failed because people without tickets should never have approached the stadium grounds.
There is an urgent need to rethink the system, because given the location of the Stade de France and the structural delinquency of a part of the population who lives in the surroundings, such incidents are inevitably called to reproduce.
This obviously reminds us of the fiasco last May during the Champions League final, where dozens of individuals attacked and extorted English and Spanish supporters. Why do these outbursts happen again? Do politicians have a responsibility?
This raises again and again the questions of structural delinquency that there are in certain French quarters, with the incidental and recurring backdrop of the question of immigration upstream, and that of the judicial response to acts of delinquency downstream.
Now, if we go into the detailed analysis, the incident this weekend is different from that of last May. At the end of May, this same population from the local crime pool had not entered the stadium but had attacked many English and Spanish supporters near the stadium. There had been a violent and methodical open hunt for people and property. This weekend’s case is different: the offenders returned directly, pushing and overflowing the security service in the stadium.
What happened this weekend is not likely to reassure foreigners who want to come and attend the Olympic Games.
Thibault de Montbrial
We must remember the reservations expressed by the former international footballer Thierry Henri when he learned that the Champions League final was relocated to the Stade de France, since it could no longer take place in Saint Petersburg because of the invasion of Ukraine by Russia: he had immediately recommended to the English not to come given the location of the stadium, that is to say in a high crime area. There had been fairly strong criticism, but it is easy to criticize someone who tells the truth. Events proved him right. What happened this weekend is not likely to reassure foreigners who will want to come to attend the Olympic Games.
“They counted to three, then they chargedexplains a witness. Is this a sign of growing impunity?
It is not so much a question of impunity as of an objective analysis of the situation by the thugs. They identify the weaknesses of their prey and organize themselves accordingly. The delinquents of Seine-Saint-Denis understood perfectly what were the weaknesses of the points of security and palpation at the entrance to the stadium. This is precisely why things need to change. The objective consists on the one hand that no one can approach the enclosure without tickets (when the event is sold out), and on the other hand that, even in case of crowd pressurethe stewards are not overwhelmed.
Beyond the seriousness of the risks caused by a number of spectators exceeding the number of seats in the stadium, it should be borne in mind that this type of situation also exposes the stadium to a terrorist risk. Indeed, individuals wishing to commit an attack could mix with the group and use the wave to break into the stadium, with knives for example.
With regard to impunity strictly speaking, the risk of being arrested on an entry by force is low, and that of being identified afterwards is even lower. We see on the video that shot that almost all of the people concerned are dressed in the same way and that it is therefore extremely difficult to formally identify them. They fully understood not only how things are done there but also how our legal system works.
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