PARIS — French authorities are strengthening their arsenal in the fight against hooliganism following serious incidents that marred the start of the football season.
Clashes before and after a weekend match in Corsica between Bastia and Marseille in August left 44 police officers injured, prompting the French government to ask football authorities to stop "inadmissible violence" near and inside stadiums.
Following a meeting between Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve, Minister of Youth and Sports Patrick Kanner, and football brass, both ministers said in a joint statement that measures including stadium bans would be implemented with immediate effect.
No fans were hurt at the match at Furiani Stadium.
Another high-profile incident last November saw three members of security staff injured when Saint-Etienne fans fought their Nice counterparts. Saint-Etienne fans ripped up seats and threw them at Nice fans before clashing with spectators in the stands, leading to several injuries.
"Authorities will make full use of their prerogatives to make sure violence inside or near stadiums won't happen again," the ministers said. "Especially with an increased use of stadium bans and, if needed, travel bans on supporters."
A limited group of about 600 Saint-Etienne fans will be allowed into the Velodrome Stadium for their club's visit to leader Marseille in the French league on Sunday, and they are not allowed to travel individually.
Among other measures announced late Thursday, authorities will track violent fans in France while cooperation will be launched with other European countries in order "to promote a smooth and secure welcome for the visiting supporters."
Although France's top club, Paris Saint-Germain, has taken measures to tackle hooliganism following years of trouble at the Parc des Princes, a fringe of PSG ultras remain active, and fought with Chelsea fans in Paris city center ahead of their teams' Champions League quarterfinal in April.
Clubs have been invited to make the most of regulations allowing them to terminate the memberships of their violent fans.
French authorities and league officials are also planning to change the way security costs are shared during matches, to involve the visiting clubs further.
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