French police arrest 36 after jubilant PSG fans celebrate

Thursday August 20 2020

fans

Paris Saint-Germain supporters celebrate their team's 3-0 win over RB Leipzig at the Champs-Elysees Avenue near the Arc de Triomphe in Paris on late August 18, 2020 following their Uefa Champions League semi-final match played in Lisbon. PHOTO | AFP  

By AFP

French police said Wednesday they had arrested 36 people overnight after clashes, notably on the Champs-Elysees, following Paris Saint-Germain's victory in the Champions League semi-final.

Police were deployed in big numbers both on the Champs-Elysees, the iconic Parisian avenue that connects the Arc de Triomphe with the Place de la Concorde, and around PSG's home ground of the Parc des Princes in the west of the city.

Thousands of PSG fans, often very young and for the most part not wearing masks in line with coronavirus health and safety protocols, paraded down the Champs-Elysees in cars, and on mopeds and scooters, in a cacophony of horn-blowing and chanting.

Arrests were made, police said, for various acts, including the throwing of projectiles, acts of violence against authorities, contempt and theft.

PSG qualified for their first Champions League final, in Lisbon on Saturday against the winner of Bayern Munich v Lyon, after beating Leipzig 3-0.

Paris Saint-Germain superstar Kylian Mbappe admits he hopes Lyon will beat Bayern Munich in their Champions League semi-final on Wednesday and set up an all-French final in Europe's elite club competition this weekend.

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"I'd prefer Lyon for sure, because they are a French team," Mbappe said when asked if he had a preferred opponent in the final after PSG's 3-0 semi-final victory over RB Leipzig in Lisbon on Tuesday.

"It will be a very tough game. If it's Bayern, fine, but if it were Lyon it would certainly make it a very special occasion."

PSG are the first French side through to the final of the Champions League since Monaco in 2004 after goals by Marquinhos, Angel Di Maria and Juan Bernat saw off Leipzig in a one-sided encounter at the Estadio da Luz.

Ankle injury

They would perhaps not be favourites in a final against Bayern, but they certainly would be against Lyon.

PSG won the Ligue 1 title while Lyon came seventh in a season that was curtailed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The teams met as recently as the end of July in the French League Cup final, with PSG winning on penalties after a 0-0 draw.

Mbappe missed that game because of an ankle injury, suffered in the French Cup final against Saint-Etienne a week earlier.

However, he returned to play a key role off the bench in the 2-1 quarter-final win over Atalanta last week and started against Leipzig.

"The truth is that the night I got my injury against Saint-Etienne I thought that was it, that I wouldn't come back" for the Champions League 'Final Eight', he said.

"I cried all night, but the next morning I woke up and said to myself that I would do everything I could, get treatment all day and come home and get more treatment.

"I knew the team would need me at some point, maybe not for my physical presence on the field but also being around the team and showing them I was ok.

"I never wanted them to see that I was suffering. It was a difficult time but it was a real pleasure to come back against Atalanta and help the team qualify today."

Mbappe, 21, admitted he is still not back to peak fitness.

"I feel good, better and better all the time, but I still have to wear a heavy strapping around it.

"There is no more pain. I still need to take certain precautions but I am ready to help the team, give everything on the pitch. All I want is to win, that's why I came here."

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