Clash between two popular football clubs, two port cities with bubbling supporters. This Thursday evening, Olympique de Marseille receives the Greek club PAOK at the Vélodrome for the quarter-final first leg of the Europa League Conference. Renowned for their ultras on both sides, the match was classified as risky.
To fully understand, the Internet is full of explicit videos of the atmosphere at the Toumba stadium, the lair of PAOK, the crater of a volcano. There, the stands are incandescent and the smoke bombs are lit en masse, in a deafening din. The reputation of ultra Greeks is well established. “It’s going to be hot”, let go of the few Marseille supporters gathered at the exit of the OM training center.
Supporters under police escort
Especially since PAOK is not “a friendly club”. The Olympians maintain ties with those of AEK Athens, not with Thessaloniki, PAOK’s mother city. Thierry Mode, fervent Olympian, is a former legionnaire. As such, he knew the Greek city and has a fairly vivid memory of it. “I met them in 2000, when we disembarked in Salonika to go to Kosovo. The inhabitants were throwing cans of paint at the vehicles. They are real Mediterraneans, they are hot-blooded”, he says .
After incidents this season at the Vélodrome, in particular with Bale and Galatasaray supporters, the Bouches-Du-Rhône police headquarters took the lead. Especially since just over 3,000 Greek supporters are expected in the stadium’s visitor parking lot. Not to mention the presence of Greeks from the diaspora in other forums.
Objective: avoid direct confrontations
Two prefectural orders were taken. Greek fans will be escorted by the national police. Processions are also prohibited. The objective is to avoid any direct confrontation between groups in the city or around the stadium. The security device will be substantial.
Thus, some like Manuel want to believe that if there is to be a battle by intermediary platform, it will be that of the decibels: “In the gallery we will have to give voice, a lot of voice. That’s what we have to do! That It’s going to be a great battle. They’re going to be hot, but we too in Marseille are hot-blooded, there’s no problem with that. After that, it’s about having a good atmosphere, and that the best wins.”