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a historic Nantes-Toulouse final against a backdrop of social protest

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The historic final between Nantes and Toulouse will be held under an important security device. The trade unions had planned to distribute red cards and whistles to spectators at the Stade de France on Saturday evening to show their rejection of the pension reform and their dissatisfaction with Emmanuel Macron, who will be present in the tribunes. But the rally was banned by the Paris police chief, Laurent Nuñez.

The evening promises to be hectic in Saint-Denis. If 78,000 spectators are expected at the Stade de France, Saturday April 29 at 9 p.m., for an unexpected poster in the Coupe de France final between the defending champion, Nantes, and the promoted Toulouse, the extra-sporting context will also be at the center of the media attention.

Almost a year after the Champions League final between Real Madrid and Liverpool in the same stadium which had turned into a security fiasco, the revealed arrival of Emmanuel Macron is stirring up social protest movements – even if the head of the State did not plan, a priori, to go down on the lawn to greet the two teams, as is sometimes the custom.

The French president will also not hand over the Cup to the winner from the lawn, as has been the practice for three years and the Covid-19 crisis. The prefect of police, Laurent Nuñez, decided that the trophy to the winner would be given in the grandstand car “this will prevent the invasion” of the lawn.

“If I had not made this decision, I would probably have been called irresponsible”, revealed the prefect on Saturday on BFMTV, pointing to the “degradations” committed during the semi-final between Nantes and Lyon.

For their part, the trade unions had planned to distribute red cards and whistles to spectators at the Stade de France to show their rejection of the pension reform and their dissatisfaction with the head of state.

A meeting held banned by the Paris police headquarters, even if the inter-union considers that it only provides for towing and has filed an appeal before the administrative court upon notification of the banning order.

“It would seem quite irresponsible to let this type of event take place on the day of a big risk match,” said Laurent Nuñez.

Thousands of police and gendarmes mobilized

For its part, the National Association of Supporters (ANS) announced on Friday that it had seized the administrative court to request “the removal of the grids at the bottom of the stands”, pointing to a “danger” with this device.

Some 3,000 police and gendarmes will be mobilized on Saturday near the Ile-de-France enclosure. A device “50% more important”, according to the entourage of the Minister of the Interior, than that mobilized on May 28, 2022 for the Champions League final, the last meeting between contested clubs in this stadium located north of Paris.

The actors of the meeting, they struggle to hide this social context, especially since the groups of ultra supporters of two teams maintain tense relations.

“I think we can’t ignore it because it will be very present, but we will have to stay connected to what we have to do on the pitch and on our performance,” explained Toulouse coach Philippe Montanier on Friday. .

“I just have to hope that everything goes well,” added his Nantes counterpart, Antoine Kombouaré. “Football lovers come to see a great match.”

Historic encounter

The atmosphere promises to be noisy in the stands for this historic meeting: Nantes won the Cup only four times, and Toulouse only once, in 1957, in the red and white jersey of a club that disappeared in 1967, then recreated from scratch in 1970.

In addition to a prestigious trophy, a victory during this 106e edition would offer them a ticket for the Europa League next season, even if that would undoubtedly raise some questions in the event of Toulouse’s success, because the TFC has the same shareholder as AC Milan. Or two clubs under the same banner cannot play the same continental competition.

For Nantes, defending champion, whose maintenance is not assured in the Championship (16e), this final looks like an oasis in the desert: if he misses this trophy and then suffers relegation to L2, he will have lost everything.

“A won final will give us the energy and the strength to seek maintenance”, tempered Kombouaré, craftsman of the surprise coronation of 2022.

The track record can reassure the coach: apart from the ogre Paris SG, winner of six of the last eight editions, the last team to manage to keep its trophy is called FC Nantes. It was in 2000, 23 years ago.

With AFP

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