A group representing European football supporters have launched emergency proceedings in the French Supreme Court over what they describe as the “blatantly illegal” banning of Rangers fans from Lyon.
Gers supporters were rocked by the news that French authorities had yanked 2200 away tickets out from underneath them for the Europa League match with Lyon.
This comes despite the allocation being confirmed just three days previously with Rangers fans now being denied access to the Groupama Stadium just days before the game.
Supporters have now been left out of pocket for travelling expenses, hotels and match-tickets with it still unclear how they will claim money back.
The French authorities have also courted controversy for their justification for the decision, which officially has nothing to do with a rising fourth wave of Covid-19 in Europe.
Rangers v Lyon threatens French Festival of Lights
Instead, Lyon is hosting a special Festival of Lights between Wednesday 8th December to Saturday 11th and the visit of Rangers fans threatens to disrupt this.
French interior minister Gerald Darmanin has also courted controversy by seemingly trying to justify the ban by describing Rangers fans as hooligans.
As quoted by RMC Sport, Darmanin said:
“To justify this decision to ban Scottish supporters from coming to watch the match in Lyon, the text is based on the recent events which surrounded the trips of the Rangers in the Europa League, ‘frequently a source of public disorder in the made of violent behavior of certain supporters or individuals availing themselves of the quality of supporter of this team’.”
Rangers themselves have been left “bemused” by the decision and have – as instructed – warned fans against travelling to the city.
However, with travel booked and accommodation paid for, plenty are still likely to make the trip – as if their right – and may even wind up in the home end.
Supporters’ associations leap to defence of travelling Rangers support
It’s not been handled at all well by the powers that be in France and now Football Supporters Europe (FSE) have joined together with Association Nationale des Supporters in launching emergency proceedings with the French Administrative Supreme Court.
📣 The decision to ban #Rangers fans from travelling to Lyon is an unacceptable restriction on freedom of movement & blatantly illegal.
— FSE – Football Supporters Europe (@FansEurope) December 6, 2021
These two groups are not the only ones who’ve expressed great frustration with the decision as the Scottish Football Supporters’ Association who claim they are “deeply concerned” by the move.
They have called on the SFA to give their backing to Rangers supporters and to fight for compensation whilst they have also made an appeal to Westminster and the Scottish sports minister.
— SFSA (@scottishfsa) December 6, 2021
The situation crosses all sorts of lines which go beyond the footballing and into the political with moral and social arguments surrounding the movement of people.
Football fans are also used to being treated aggressively and unfairly by authorities and one questions if such a ban would be implemented in other sports.
Competitively, whilst Group A might also be decided, the match is not quite the dead rubber some would have you believe.