The cold humidity of this Wednesday in January rises in the spectators of the Unicorn stadium. A few meters away, the players of Amiens rush to the goal of Reims under the encouragement of their supporters. Between the lawn and the stands, a group of men, bundled up in anoraks, watch the spectators with their eyes. Embroidered on their parka, the logo of the national police indicates that they are not stewards deployed along the handrails. At the edge of the field, 14 of these men are deployed. All are part of a SIR, the rapid response section.
Created ten years ago, these units rely on the pool of classic police officers who, after training, don the tracksuits on match nights, now recognized by regulars in the stadiums of France. Their mission: to monitor the arrival of visiting supporters, keep an eye on the local kop, participate in excavations and be ready to intervene if necessary.
“The most complicated are the arrests in the gallery”
“They are empowered to make arrests in the gallery or palpations on supporters at risk, said Antoine Mordacq, boss of the National Division against hooliganism (DNLH). These are not standard police practices on the public highway. ” Another principle that justifies their presence: the vision of CRS uniforms tends to tense certain supporters.
“You could say that we are the grandstand police,” smiles Christophe Leroy. A former professional footballer who passed through Abbeville and Amiens, this 51-year-old major was chosen to head the twentieth SIR, based in the Somme prefecture.
Two months earlier, he was the one we had found during a training session in this same enclosure, marked by the collapse of a barrier in the visitors’ gallery for the coming of Lille in 2017. He was there to direct his police at the end of their training.
“When you have blocks of hundreds of people moving around, you can’t stop all the time,” he explains. So we play it tactical. What is most complicated are the arrests in the gallery because there are steps and therefore the risk of falling. You have to stay safe and not go when you risk falling four meters. The idea is to wait for movement. ”
This is the option chosen that day. After having spotted a fan to be apprehended among the raging ultra, camped by extras for the needs of this training, the police officers of the SIR of the Somme are placed at the exit of the enclosure. “Here we go!” Yells Christophe Leroy, before throwing himself with his men on the “culprit”. In a few seconds, the arrested person was taken ten meters away, behind a human wall of CRS. Where the other false supporters collide, helpless.
VIDEO. Football: 90 minutes with the grandstand police
But return to this Amiens-Reims, classified at risk on January 15. The previous weekend, the Picard supporters of the Tribune Nord group had their tarpaulin stolen. Supreme confrontation among fans. At the city police station, there is concern: on social networks, there is a rumor that the perpetrators of larceny are to be sought in Champagne. And that they could show it off at the stadium to taunt the Picards. A fear at the center of the pre-match safety briefing.
“The climate is very tense, it can quickly degenerate”
“You have to be ready to intervene in the event of an invasion of the ground,” launched the departmental director of public security, David Preud’Homme. The climate is very tense among Amiens, it can quickly degenerate. We also maintain vigilance after the match so that a committee does not intercept them on the way home. ”
For its first full-scale outing, the SIR de la Somme receives reinforcement from its counterpart in Pas-de-Calais, led by Antoine B. Nine years ago, he and other police officers had to throw themselves into the fray ‘a fight between PSG supporters in Caen. “There, if they invade the field, the watchword is to form another cordon behind the stewards, then to protect the referees and the players by prohibiting access to the locker rooms,” he describes.
At 6:45 pm, the bulk of … 93 visiting supporters identified that evening arrive at the Unicorn. After a first search of the stewards, the Rémois pass into the hands of Christophe Leroy and his police. “If there is one who has the tarp, we can stop him right away for stolen stolen goods,” he slips. “Me, I have nothing, you can palpate as much as you want,” says a fan with a breath full of alcohol. “We could call him for drunkenness, but what does it mean,” says a member of the SIR. As long as he stands, we let him enter the stadium… ”
No trace of the famous tarpaulin
The atmosphere is calmed. But the Somme police applied for their first time. “You are not staying there!” You run behind with the others, ”says Christophe Leroy to a Rémois who retraces his steps to attend the search of his coach partners. Finally, all are allowed to enter the visitors’ park, under the whistles of the Amiens kop opposite. No trace of the famous tarpaulin. A quarter of an hour after entering, the SIR police officers are breathing: the evening will be quiet.
At around 9 p.m., referee M. Hamel whistles the end of the match. 1-1, the Amiens, disappointed, leave the stadium. In the parking lot, the police make sure that the Rémois get back to their coach. “It was calm this evening”, recognizes Antoine B. But this Saturday, it is the turn of PSG and its 651 boiling supporters to present themselves at the Unicorn. “There, it will inevitably be more lively …”, slips a policeman.