Euro 2016 Championships Go Beyond Football

CD-News Spoke with Pascal Essertel, in Charge of the Extra-Stadium Activities in Saint-Étienne During Euro 2016

June 23rd, 2016

The Euro Championships 2016, ordinarily a time of celebration, have been marred by violence in Marseille between English and Russian fans. But this has been only one exception in a competition that brings fans together from all over Europe to enjoy their passion.

The media has payed special attention to the tragic events that occurred in Marseille around the time of the game between England and Russia. Those events are of course to be condemned, but they do not reflect the reality of Euro 2016, which brings together tens of thousands of fans from all over Europe. CD-News talked with Pascal Essertel, the person in charge of the organization of extra-stadium activities for the fans in Saint-Etienne.

“During the game between Portugal and Iceland everything went very well”, said Mr Essertel. The public, of whom the majority came from Iceland – in fact they say that around 10% of the total population of the Iceland was in Saint-Etienne - “was very nice, they mingled with the population and with the Portuguese and we saw scenes of shared joy that reminded us of 1998”, the year when all France was behind the “black, blanc, beur” team that became world champions.

In order to welcome all the fans, the city of Saint-Etienne made great preparations. A Fan Zone with room for 12,000 people has been created, where people can meet with a cold beer before, during and after the game. After the game, fans can meet at the Fan Zone to enjoy a show by some local bands and famous French musicians, including Mickey 3D and Louise Attaque.

But in Saint-Etienne “we are trying to go further than the four games of the Euro, we also want to encourage people to discover the city and the region.  We hope that the city will become well-known after the championship and that there will be some positive outcome for the town”, said Pascal Essertel. A Fan Village has been created in the heart of Saint-Etienne so people can make this event theirs. A museum has been created along with an urban culture space and some street shows. “We wanted to create a dynamic space and the whole city has made a great effort to make it happen.”

In total, over 400 individuals worked together to welcome the fans in the best way possible. The scenes of jubilation and friendship between the Icelanders and the Portuguese seem to prove their hard work paid off. “The championships go beyond football, people need to live together and the matches are a great way to bring them together. Culture, sport included, is the best way to connect people”, said Mr Essertel. “This is why we work.”


Cultural Diplomacy News
Gaspard Fontaine, CD News