President Nicolas Sarkozy has called for tough action against football fans who displayed a 30-metre long banner at a cup final accusing people from northern France of being "jobless, inbred paedophiles".
President Sarkozy, who was present at the Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) vs Lens match at the weekend, said that "hate-mongering" by Paris fans was "unacceptable". Other politicians called for the league cup final, won 2-1 by PSG, to be replayed to teach the Parisian fans a lesson.
The incident has provoked fury and consternation among French people who have been going in droves to see a comic film that mocks the anti-northern prejudices of Parisians and southerners. The movie, Bienvenue chez les Ch'tis, has shattered box-office records in France in the last month and looks likely to become the most popular French movie of all time.
The film gives a humorous, good-natured portrait of the oddities of language and culture of the "Ch'tis", natives of the most northerly French region, the Nord-Pas de Calais.
At Saturday night's match against a northern club, Racing Club de Lens, Paris supporters briefly displayed a long banner which said: "Pedophiles, chomeurs, consanguins: bienvenue chez les ch'tis." (Paedophiles, unemployed and in-bred: welcome to the home of the ch'tis).
Paris fans have the reputation of being the most violent, stupid and racist in France. This was the first time, however, that they had tried to stir up hatred against an entire region.
President Sarkozy attended the match at the Stade de France, just north of Paris, with his 10-year-old son, Louis. When he saw the banner, displayed at the beginning of the second half, he told the president of the French football league, Frederic Thiriez, that he would walk out unless it was removed. …