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Everton seek information from fans involved in Lille incidents

24/10/2014  Comments (25)  jump
Club opens online feedback form

An elderly Blue suffered a nasty head wound after being struck by a projectile fired by riot police in Lille.

Everton have released a statement outlining their intent to continue to work with Merseyside police and the local authorities in Lille to better understand the "isolated but serious incidents" that marred the club's visit to the northern French city for last night's Europa League game.

A number of travelling supporters were caught up in two separate events during their time in Lille, first when a group of Evertonians were the victims of a premeditated and unprovoked attack by local thugs outside a local bar on Wednesday night and then in the town square yesterday where tear-gas canisters, rubber bullets and a stun grenade were deployed by riot police to disperse the large gathering of people who had gathered there to revel in the pre-match atmosphere.

The club are requesting information from supporters who were present at either incident via an online feedback form at the official club website — fans will be required to enter their name and customer number to submit feedback — while Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson has pledged to take up the matter with his counterpart in Lille.

The club's visit to France for its first competitive match in that country was soured early when about 100 unidentified French youths ambushed a small group of supporters smoking outside The Australia Bar and attempted to force their way into the establishment using metal chairs that had been stacked outside by bar staff against Everton fans and the bar's windows.

A handful of Blues fans suffered injuries in the attack while others were targeted by a belated and indiscriminate police response to the trouble which involved the use of tear gas.

Important to realise that no-one knew they were police at the time and that they were all dressed like thugs. Not an excuse for throwing stuff, but in light of the previous nights events, somewhat understandable.

BoysInBlue post to GrandOldTeam.com forum

Approximately 1,000 Blues supporters had amassed in the centre of the city the following afternoon when chaos erupted as plain-clothed police wielding batons moved in to arrest an individual whom British police had identified as a known hooligan who was selling drugs. Perhaps with the the events of the previous evening in mind, some fans standing nearby retaliated by throwing beer bottles, prompting pepper spray, rubber bullets and then a grenade from the officers before police in riot gear to move in to create a protective shield from the handful of fans who refused to back down.

The police action has drawn heavy criticism from Evertonians as many supporters were tear-gassed and pepper-sprayed while a young fan and an elderly man were struck either by a flash ball or gas canister, suffering lacerations to the head. Images that later emerged of smirking police officers brandishing batons among the crowd have done little to dispel the belief that the gendarmes' response was heavy-handed and their actions wholly disproportionate to the circumstances.

A band of undercover police form a ring around the arrest of an individual in the Grand Place crowd

French police issued a statement yesterday saying:

At 2.20 pm on 23 October 2014, police responsible for security in the main square, where about 1,000 British fans had gathered ahead of the Europa League match between Lille and Everton, noticed that one of them — already spotted in yesterday's brawl — was selling drugs.

The individual was arrested, but the action sparked a hostile reaction against the police, who had missiles thrown at them.

Intervention teams drove back the rioters, using a stun grenade and firing twice with rubber bullets in self-defence."

Lille police have been criticised for over-zealous methods in the past and, in seeking to avoid the kind of trouble the city suffered when local fans clashed with those from PSV Eindhoven three years ago, they appeared to have over-estimated the threat posed by supporters from Everton who have a reputation for being generally well-behaved and jovial following the club across Europe.

Indeed, a large contingent of Evertonians visited Nuremberg entirely without notable incident five years ago and are expected to travel to Wolfsburg in their droves next month.

Official Club Statement at EvertonFC.com


Reader Comments (25)

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Peter Murray
1 Posted 24/10/2014 at 09:43:46
The post match comments in the local French press are interesting:

The trouble on Thursday afternoon kicked off at about 2.15pm when supporters started throwing objects at the police. Until then they had been playing football on the square, drinking their beer in public and had draped their banners over the cathedral.

The trouble on Wednesday night started with a fight in the bar. It confirms that about 40 masked French youths attacked the Everton supporters. The riot police chased off the attackers and had to use tear gas on those Everton supporters who wished to continue he affray.

On the football side Everton are "une belle equipe" with hardly a fault.

Source: La Voix du Nord.

Aidan Plunkett
2 Posted 24/10/2014 at 09:18:07
Irishman living in Lille. Sorry to see the sh*t that ye had to put up with yesterday in Lille. ItÂ’s a shame because generally speaking Lille is a very friendly city. IÂ’m 100% sure that those French yobs who started the trouble have nothing to do Lille football club.

And as far as the French police (CRS), IÂ’ve seen their conduct first hand in a number of demonstrations here in Lille.

Anyway the atmosphere around the stadium was good. Was chatting to a number of Evertonians and supporters from both teams seemed to be getting on fine.

I thought the match was fairly entertaining for a no score draw. Maybe it just goes to show the absolute drivel that we have had to watch in Lille (a lot of 0-0Â’s and 1-0 that David Moyes specialised in).

Best of luck for the rest of the season.
Ray Roche
3 Posted 24/10/2014 at 12:05:52
The observations of at least one Frenchman last night, translated:

"Beware of easy reactions and clichés. I was there, I saw only happy-to-be-together-in-Lille fans, mostly elderly, many women and children as well. All smiling and singing. Provocateurs, they were Lille last night, and police this afternoon. The bad guys are not always the ones you think."

Seems like quite a few of our fans were completely blameless.

Peter Mills
4 Posted 24/10/2014 at 13:15:05
The gathering of fans in the Grand Place was reminiscent of Rotterdam, and was very good-natured around 1:00pm. It was therefore a great surprise to be in a bar 200 m away an hour later and learn of tear gas having been deployed.

We decided to get to the ground early, and got in an hour ahead of kick off. Even at that stage, with very few people entering the stadium, it took about 10 minutes to get through the frisking process. However, we had been warned about this.

Due to the stadium having a slatted exo-skeleton construction, I had a very good view of others entering the stadium after me. I could see crowds building up outside with 15 minutes to go, crowded into a narrow area and stopped by a line of stewards, while some fans were causing problems at the turnstile. Had serious trouble started at this stage, I have to say that some of our own fans would have been culpable.

Rob Halligan
5 Posted 24/10/2014 at 13:36:10
I travelled on the club day package. From the minute we arrived at Lille airport and cleared passport control, there was a heavy police presence waiting in the arrivals lounge. There were 5 coaches to take us to our drop off point, about a 15-/20-minute walk to the main square. We were given a police escort, amazingly going through every red light, but once we were dropped off we were left free to wander with not a single policeman in sight. However upon arriving into the square, about 10:45 I think, it was a different kettle of fish. The place was swarming with them.

We situated ourselves in a bar just off the square, near where all the flags were hanging from the wall. At about 2:15, two of us went to a supermarket to buy some cans and we were gone about half an hour. It was only when we returned we learned of the trouble. However there had been no indication of any trouble brewing as to be honest there had been next to none of any Lille fans in sight.

We eventually left the square about 4:15 to make our way back to the coaches which were due to leave 4:45. The coaches dropped us off underneath the ground with yet again a huge police presence. We made our way up to the entrance where we met a huge police reception for the customary body search.

After the match, when we were kept behind for about 20 minutes, we were let out to make our way back to the coaches underneath the stadium. Amazingly we were met with a huge line of police in riot gears, shields et al. And this was still within the grounds of the stadium. We were given an escort back to the airport where we were met by only a handful of police.

Sad to report back like this, but not once throughout the day did I see one ounce of trouble by Everton fans, especially having spent the best part of 5 hours in the square. It is my firm belief that the police were the ones hell bent on trying to entice trouble out of us, and if it werenÂ’t for the incident involving the known hooligan and drug dealer which appears to have sparked the trouble, I doubt there would have been any trouble at all.

As for the game itself, not a classic by any means. I think we played better in the second half and might have pinched a win near the end. Overall though, happy with a point.

Roll on Wolfsburg. Somehow I can guess what will be waiting for us upon our arrival!!!

Alan McMillan
6 Posted 24/10/2014 at 14:52:47
Does not bode well for the Euros in 2 years time... the French police will have to learn quickly that reacting in a heavy-handed and over-zealous way is not how to deal with large groups of fans enjoying the pre-match atmosphere!
Peter Fearon
7 Posted 24/10/2014 at 15:10:09
I have witnessed many riots and mass disturbances in a number of places over many years and I have never failed to be amazed at the stupidity of the police whose job is surely to prevent or at least limit violence. When you turn up in riot gear with baton guns and shield and helmets and masks and grenades you are being provocative.

This was not much of a riot but from what I have seen the French police were spoiling for a fight. Yes, thereÂ’s always some fans who want to be provocative too but the police are supposed to know better. There was no need for this and it could have gone downhill very fast.

Dominic Tonge
8 Posted 24/10/2014 at 15:29:40
I just got back from Lille. And I have to say that, those two incidents apart, we were treated with great respect and a friendly manner by locals, and gendarmes.

The trouble in the square started when the police went in to arrest a French bloke, who I thing was selling drugs – they were very heavy handed with him, in fact so much so that a couple of fans got involved, and things escalated. The beauts throwing bottles didn’t help, and that forced the police to retreat to a shop front. We heard a bang and at first thought it was a flare, turned out that it was a canister of tear gas which landed about 25 or 30 yards from us.

I didnt witness the attack the previous evening so I canÂ’t comment. However, going to the ground from Lille Flanders on the Metro was horrid. Two coppers guarding the stairs and one downstairs where the train arrived was not enough to control or police all the fans there. I think Lille genuinely thought we only took enough fans for our original allocation and no more. They were unprepared and flapping.

In the ground, I was with the Lille fans who were ALL searched/patted down so no complaints there. All-in-all it was good but had the propensity to go very wrong very quickly.

Kieran Riding
9 Posted 24/10/2014 at 16:16:16
There was deffo a large police presence in and around the stadium. The body armour some of them were wearing looked ace by the way!

I was in bars and a restaurant with the Lille fans after the game and I didnÂ’t even see the slightest hint of any trouble. The only trouble I did see personally was actually between our own fans as we were queuing up to get in. Drunk queue jumping Dosen't go down well with some it seems!

The fella with the blue smoke pictured in the square also set one off inside the ground as he was sat very close to me.

Kieran Riding
10 Posted 24/10/2014 at 16:29:34
This shows the incident quite clearly if anyoneÂ’s missed it.
http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=4CkVUHEmNQs
Kieran Riding
11 Posted 24/10/2014 at 16:35:41
http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=nCDJTNH2QEo

Part 2 - you get the jist.

Derek Knox
12 Posted 24/10/2014 at 19:29:36
Thanks to all those who travelled, and furthermore, had the acumen to tell us what REALLY happened!

I have supported Everton virtually all my life, even though I am initially a Scot, in my younger days, I did go to all the away matches (home and abroad) and I can honestly say, I have never experienced any trouble from our contingent!

Am I wrong? (I donÂ’t think so!) I think they donÂ’t really want us there for whatever reason!

Maybe we have threatened to break the mold?

I know the performance last night was not exactly, top drawer, but THEY set out not to lose!

I just hope and pray, that we will eventually get back to proving we are a force,not only in the Premier League, but also in Europe!

To quote a famous line from DadÂ’s Army "They donÂ’t like like it upÂ’em"!

COYB

Tony Draper
13 Posted 24/10/2014 at 20:20:21
The behaviour of some Everton fans (throwing bottles at the French Police) is not defensible, however I watched the video footage which is displayed via numerous outlets.

Link

The actions of the plainclothes Officer with a scarf across his face (IÂ’m assuming because of the teargas) @ 0:25 and a few seconds later speaks volumes. He swipes bottles onto the floor with his baton then clearly communicates with a riot suited officer in an authoritative manner. So obviously he is a senior rank.

Not exactly non-confrontational or calming behaviour.

Tony Draper
14 Posted 24/10/2014 at 20:46:15
Apologies for the bad link

The plainclothes Police officer @ 00:25 and thereafter

Link

Mark Tate-Smith
15 Posted 24/10/2014 at 20:52:37
This is my first post on ToffeeWeb and the first time IÂ’ve been able to attend an Everton game for a few years. I went to the game with my two sons and we were in the Lille end and saw no trouble at all.

We were patted down as we entered the stadium but that was it and the Lille fans around us were very friendly and willing to speak English. Just like it should be. We saw police around but they were mainly sorting out the traffic.

Terry Farrell
16 Posted 24/10/2014 at 20:39:38
First off, the amount of Blues that made the trip was amazing. Great trip with lots of laughs and good natured bonhomie everywhere you went.

Lille people were great and their fans friendly. I, like thousands, were not in the Everton end but the Lille fans around us were good people and didnÂ’t resent our presence like IÂ’ve experienced in other Premier League grounds.

Would our stewards have allowed thousands of away fans in home areas? The answer is no. As a town, they werenÂ’t geared up for so many people in one hit. I left the square as the tear gas came in and there were a few divs who had been getting over-excited so it did feel like something might kick off.

I didnÂ’t see what triggered it but my mate did and he said that no one realised they were plain-clothes police. Other police I encountered in the Metro, etc, were fine. One apparently gave his mike to a fan who had the whole station singing "60 grand, Seamus Coleman". Also the media and social networks go into melt down and constantly over react.

Whilst what happened to those 2 lads was bang out of order and the French police in the square over reacted, let's focus on the positives. I bet Lille would welcome us back.

Scott Ellis
17 Posted 24/10/2014 at 21:21:20
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iwZYQl4T7ew

Personally , I would rather watch this clip as its much nearer to the real atmosphere.

Oh and riot police looked more like Nazis than police..

Andy Meighan
18 Posted 24/10/2014 at 22:57:30
Regardless of what went on on Wednesday and early Thursday the fact is the French – and I’m generalising here – can’t stand us. And I don’t mean Everton, I mean the English. They’re the most ignorant arrogant race of people I’ve ever come across in my life and, believe me, I’ve travelled.

I thought Russian people were quite obnoxious but the French seem to hate us with a passion. I know this: if Lille do bring quite a few hundred or maybe a thousand theyÂ’ll be made more welcome than if they were in their home town. I can assure them of that because our city does welcome foreign visitors.

Our police force certainly doesnÂ’t use heavy-handed tactics on visiting football fans. I donÂ’t think for one minute any Evertonian will be out for revenge not at all. Oh, and by the way, we ll fuck them on the pitch. They were poor.

Sam Barrett
19 Posted 25/10/2014 at 10:11:36
The incident in the Grand Place was unfortunate. The undercover police were heavy-handed at first which caused a reaction from some Evertonians. After the tear gas and the riot police moved in this could have escalated into a full-scale riot. But we have to credit the Evertonians AND the French riot bizzies for both backing off. For the rest of the trip, both parties were impeccably behaved.
Tony Abrahams
20 Posted 25/10/2014 at 10:52:57
I never saw the incidents but my opinion is that the English have a reputation that still goes before them.

I got off the train by the ground and the French Plod in their riot gear looked like they were ready for war. The closer you got to the stadium, the more relaxed the police became, because they realised these English were only here to watch the football and have a good time.

Why is it that the Country we fought two world wars against are the only ones that treat us with proper respect?

Paul Andrews
21 Posted 25/10/2014 at 18:56:49
Tony,

We were saying the same thing. The square in Nuremberg outside the team hotel had thousands of us all having a good time. The German police were relaxed and the fans responded likewise.

Paul Burns
22 Posted 25/10/2014 at 22:27:12
ItÂ’s like this in various places around Europe, theyÂ’re stuck in a 1970Â’s frame of mind.

In Florence, an Italian translated an article in a local paper which described us "an army of English hooligans descending on Florence".

In Bucharest, the Police looked terrified of what was going to happen because we lost 5-1.

In Lisbon, the Police at the ground were dressed like Robocop and the ones at Villarreal were thugs hiding behind uniforms.

The Germans are usually pretty good and relaxed and have a similar drinking culture to ours so hopefully Wolfsburg will be as good as Nuremberg.

Rob Halligan
23 Posted 25/10/2014 at 23:08:39
I agree with Paul Burns (#22). Wolfsburg will not be a problem, primarily because there is nothing there. Everyone going and who is staying over are staying in Hannover, about 30 mins away by train. I was at the pre season friendly there 4 years ago and had a great time.

I just hope the Hannover police are accommodating after the match as the Nuremburg police were all day.

Tony Abrahams
24 Posted 26/10/2014 at 07:35:19
Paul, Nuremberg wasnÂ’t even a square. The police closed the road and diverted traffic to let us enjoy ourselves.

Common sense is all thatÂ’s required but as Burnsy says they are all stuck in the past. When Holland and Belgium shared the EuroÂ’s the more relaxed police force had the fewest problems.

Fear creates Fear, and so does a lack of understanding. Actually thought The French could have been a lot worse though and things could have easily got out of hand if there police hadnÂ’t backed off after they fired there warning shots.

Maybe thatÂ’s easy to say when I never got caught up in it myself, but do you really think we would have accepted it if they hadnÂ’t backed off?

Tony Bell
25 Posted 26/10/2014 at 11:38:19
I got the train from Brussels to Lille Europe and arrived at just before 5. There didn't seem to be much around but after 10 minutes we found a bar full of blues and enjoyed the atmosphere and singing.
Some of the blues were absolutely hammered and didn't even know they'd dropped there pints or knocked beers over on the table. These weren't young guys either, they were in there late 40's and 50's. I didn't see any trouble though.
When we left to go to the ground an hour before kick off the police had blocked the metro and wouldn't let us through. They didn't talk, they were just suited up in riot gear and blocked everyone's path.
We then tried to flag a taxi but when they realised we were English they said the taxi was "reserved". This happened about 6 or 7 times and they stopped each time. This leads me to believe they were told not to pick up Everton fans by someone as why would they stop next to us if they were truly reserved?
Eventually my basic French paid off and we got a taxi to the ground, but as it took 10 mins to get through the double patting down we missed the first 20 minutes of the game which, after watching the last 70 i'd say was a blessing in disguise. Awful.
We left without issue and managed to get a taxi and got back to Brussels, which by the way was a fantastic place
My biggest issue was why stop us getting to the game? Surely you want the Everton fans off the street and at the game, not annoying them by stopping them doing what they paid alot of money to do. This is how trouble starts and in my opinion they are lucky there weren't more kicks offs with these antics.

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