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The Auteuil stand at the Parc des Princes is home to the Paris Saint-Germain ‘ultras’. On Saturday, they were out in force.
The sight of flares, tifos and fans bouncing up and down in unison is something you would expect for a men’s game, but this was the semi-final of the women’s Champions League.
PSG were beaten 2-1 on the night by Lyon, who had won the first leg 3-2 a week earlier. But the Parisians would not be silenced.
Paris Saint-Germain ‘ultras’ were out in force for PSG Women vs Lyon Women at the weekend
The sight of flares, tifos and fans bouncing up and down in unison is unusual for women’s game
Lyon won in front of a crowd of 43,255 – a record for a women’s domestic game in France
A crowd of 43,255, a record for a women’s domestic game in France, sang constantly throughout the 90 minutes and continued their chants in the streets after the final whistle. Had you been walking past the stadium during the match, it would have been impossible to tell whether a men’s or women’s game was taking place inside.
The type of support PSG women generate is unique. You would not find ultras at Chelsea or Arsenal.
Women’s matches in England are still, in the large part, family orientated. For example, when Arsenal play Tottenham at the Emirates on Wednesday, it will be a much calmer atmosphere. That is of course in part because the women’s game is still growing, as is the history of the women’s North London derby – this is only Tottenham’s third season in the top flight.
But the atmosphere at PSG on Saturday was not a one off. When the club ended Lyon’s 14-year reign at the top of the French league last season, thousands of fans took to the streets for a party.
In 2019, 600 Paris ultras travelled to London for their quarter-final first leg with Chelsea. Though the occasion was slightly marred by clashes with the police, the fans that did make it into Kingsmeadow made themselves heard and contributed to a lively atmosphere.
And Chelsea were greeted by a raucous crowd for the return leg, with manager Emma Hayes.
PSG were beaten 2-1 on the night by Lyon, who had won the first leg 3-2 a week earlier
‘I loved it,’ the Chelsea boss said at the time. ‘I was humming the songs as the game went on.
‘It adds to the sport when we’re playing in front of crowds like that and I can only encourage and congratulate PSG for that because it certainly gave them a home advantage.’
There seems to be division among supporters of the women’s game in England. Some, naturally, want to keep the family atmosphere at matches while others are more keen for a shift. Away sections are becoming more common but the majority of games are still taking place with fans mixed together.
There is, of course, no right or wrong way to support a team – and perhaps there needs to be a wider approach from clubs on how they can cater for all of their fans. Separate singing sections could be one route. It is common for most clubs in the men’s game to have stands where the more vocal fans are based and stands where families sit.
Type of support PSG women generate is unique. You wouldn’t find ultras at Chelsea or Arsenal
It is crucial clubs communicate with their supporters on what they want and how they would like an average matchday to look.
It is also something the authorities will have to take into account for this summer’s Euros, with the majority of the crowds likely to be women and families.
It is timely then, that Heineken have today revealed a new direction for its sponsorship in football, making its entire football campaign across both the men’s and women’s game about tackling gender bias affecting both players and fans of the sport.
Heineken have also created a new TVC and Digital campaign, entitled Cheers to All Fans, Men Included, which aims to highlight gender misconceptions around being a football fan.
Ambassador and England legend and broadcaster Alex Scott said: ‘What I love about football is that it brings people together from all walks of life. Everyone has a right to take part in the sport they love, whether they’re a fan or a player.
‘At the end of the day, sport is sport, and no one should be left out. That’s why I’m excited to work with Heineken to challenge the stereotypes, football should be for everyone.’
With two-thirds of women in football having experienced gender discrimination, Heineken is on a mission to evolve its sponsorships in the sport to address the uneven playing field.
To find out more, visit FresherFootball.
Source: DailyMail Sports