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    Serge Ayoub, the leader of the radical far-right movement Jeunesses Nationalistes Revolutionnaires, JNR (Revolutionary Nationalist Youth) gives a press conference on June 8, 2013 at Le Local cafe in Paris

    'We Live in a World of Petty Bureaucrats': Ex-Football Hooligan Sounds Off

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    A year after the violent clashes in Marseille between football fans during Euro-2016 Serge Ayoub, an ex-ultra and one of the most radical supporters in the history of French football, shared with Sputnik France his thoughts about the game, his relations with the authorities, his worldview, and about politics.

    Serge Ayoub was pretty tight-lipped about himself saying only that he used to lead a movement called The Third Way (Troisieme Voie), which hinged on solidarism, and describing himself as a fan of everything patriotic and public.

    When asked what he likes more: football or politics, he said that football per se doesn’t inspire him that much.

    “Everyone knew that, I made no secret of that. What I was really interested in was a team, a community, people, being able to do something together and challenge the system – this is what I liked most,” Serge noted.

    Mentioning the Parc des Princes stadium, he described it as the territory of Paris Saint-Germain FC, which “fights for victory backed by its fans, who are ready to go wherever the team goes.”

    "This happens because people no longer feel themselves as a single nation and are trying to find a way to become one again. […] They don’t want to be manipulated, that’s why I liked going there and to feel myself like a grain of sand caught in a machine.”

    After the France-England game of 1984, Serge Ayoub became notorious taking on the English fans with vengeance wielding a baseball bat he had smuggled to the stadium.

    “During Euro-1984, France was playing England. We went there to show the English, who were the best then, that we existed and were to be reckoned with. We knocked out many of them all right. If you watch the video coverage of that you will see… After that the Parc des Princes stadium became famous because other serious things that happened there,” Ayoub recalled.

    “One of the French [fans] was taken to hospital with an axe sticking out of his head. Another one had his face cut with a razor [from forehead to chin]. I remember the Brits being carried out on stretchers […] I have no regrets, I was just a kid.”

    Serge Ayoub does not like the way the modern world is going and criticizes capitalism.

    “It is imperative to get yourself into a dangerous situation. It is important to get society into a dangerous situation because this is the only way you can have a dialogue. This is what life is all about. […] Unfortunately, we live at a time when heroes have turned into paper pushers because we live in a world of petty bureaucrats.”

    Regarding the special laws against football hooligans that came about in the 1990s, Serge dismissed them as “idiotic.”

    “To love football is not a crime, at least for now. […] The fan world is not about attacking someone; it is about duels between people who volunteer to fight. You can call this stupid but you’ll have to agree that when people do what they want everything changes.”

    He added that, from a legal point of view, this is called grievous bodily harm inflicted intentionally on each other by the sides.

    “Meaning that this is something special and the punishment is special too.”

    Ayoub said he had spent some time living in Russia’s Kaliningrad.

    “I have also been in Moscow and St. Petersburg. I like going back to Russia because Russians are very much like the French. […] I will certainly go to Russia, but not to watch football, because the World Cup as it is now doesn’t mean a thing to me,” he concluded.

    The 2018 FIFA World Cup will be held in Russia from June 14 to July 15. The games will be hosted by Moscow, St. Petersburg, Kaliningrad, Volgograd, Kazan, Nizhny Novgorod, Samara, Saransk, Rostov-on-Don, Yekaterinburg and Sochi.

    The opening and the final matches of the tournament will be held in Moscow at the renovated Luzhniki stadium, which is able to seat a crowd of 81,000.

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    Tags:
    petty bureaucrats, solidarism, ex-football hooligan, fans, capitalism, The Third Way, FIFA, Serge Ayoub, France
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