PSG's title celebrations marred by fan violence
PARIS (AP) -Paris Saint-Germain's celebrations at ending its 19-year wait for the French league title were cut short Monday following violent scenes in which supporters clashed with riot police.
Tens of thousands of fans waited patiently for the players to turn up more than an hour late at Trocadero plaza, a famous Paris landmark near the Eiffel Tower, to toast PSG's third league title and its first since 1994.
Dressed smartly in dark suits, the players drew loud cheers from the fans, some of whom stood on rooftops, lit flares and climbed scaffolding.
But there was not even time for a speech from coach Carlo Ancelotti or captain Thiago Silva, who held the trophy aloft with defensive partner Mamadou Sakho. After only a few minutes, the players were led away by security officials - after which the frustration of the fans boiled over.
Small groups of riot police started to move forward, with the mood turning increasingly ugly. The disgruntled fans threw stones and other objects at the police, who fired tear gas canisters in response.
Sporadic fighting between fans and police around the Trocadero continued two hours after the ceremony ended, and the players' planned moonlit boat trip along the Seine river was canceled.
There was even fighting among the supporters, while shop and car windows were smashed near the Champs Elysees.
Reports said several fans were treated for minor injuries.
On what was supposed to be a night of celebration, the clashes dominated the news headlines. The scenes will deal a blow to the club's image, three years after a PSG fan was killed in fighting outside Parc des Princes stadium - the second hooligan-related death at the club since 2006.
"There were fireworks, flares and a bit of (tear) gas flying about,'' PSG defender Zoumana Camara said. "But you can understand that a bit because they (the fans) have been waiting for so long.''
PSG had serious problems with hooliganism from 1985 to 2010. The club then took measures to combat the problem and radically changed its ticketing policy.
Former PSG player Ali Bernabia, who played for PSG from 1999-2001, believes the club has yet to truly resolve the problem and said the location for the ceremony was an open invitation for fans to converge, making it impossible for police to control.
"You can't expect everything to suddenly change and to host a trophy presentation at the Trocadero,'' Bernabia said on BFM television. "These things take time to resolve.''
PSG also chose the Trocadero to present star signing Zlatan Ibrahimovic last August, and there were some incidents of fighting between fans that afternoon.
Sporting director Leonardo did not attend the ceremony after reportedly being hospitalized overnight and treated for a stress-related ailment before being released Monday afternoon.
Leonardo was involved in a verbal altercation with Ibrahimovic after Sunday's match, with television images showing the club's top scorer shouting angrily at the sporting director in the changing room after the match.
Leonardo also faces a long ban after barging into the referee in a corridor following PSG's 1-1 draw with Valenciennes less than two weeks ago.
The 1-0 win at Lyon on Sunday night clinched the championship for PSG with two rounds remaining.