The scenes outside Marseille Stadium were depressingly familiar to English football fans who have traveled to France in the past
It's quite simple , as a sports journalist: you get accreditation, access to all premises and walk around without much fuss. The experience of the really important people paying players is always more difficult, but it doesn't have to be as bad as it was at the Marseille stadium on Saturday night.
Lest you think this is just whining commonly referred to as a hack, the following description of my fan experience was confirmed to me by eight different groups of fans, all of whom had the same messy experience.
This is not a case of fans without tickets trying to get into the stadium or fans who showed up at the last minute and tried to break into the stadium. We arrived at the stadium more than two and a half hours before the match started to try to avoid any problems. At this moment, thousands of fans of both teams blocked the road leading to the main steps of the stadium. Some tried to disperse into surrounding streets, bars and shops to stop the crowds from growing, but with many streets blocked by police and barriers, they were unable to do so and were forced to stand in the increasingly dense crowd. .
The gates finally opened, just an hour before kick-off, and by this point some 20,000 fans had already gathered at the steps. Getting through security took almost an hour, which, although boring, wouldn't have been a problem if the gates had opened earlier. Because they didn't, it was a problem that was compounded by a frankly dumb numbering system that left many fans, and indeed stadium staff, unsure of where to find fan seats.
Rugby World Cup: scenes of “chaos” in Marseille for the Angleterre-Argentina match, the English press and the French organization https://t.co/AyKObFcQ2k pic.twitter.com/oP0oj6M6ER< /p>— Fdesouche .com est une revue de presse (@F_Desouche) September 10, 2023
After several exchanges of phrases like “You're sitting in my seat,” “Well, they're sitting in my seat,” many fans simply stood up and We sat down in the first empty seat we could find. Thousands of fans missed the start of the match, and hundreds found themselves in concrete aisles, unable to find their seats.
Leaving the land was also unpleasant: there were bottlenecks where huge crowds were forced into narrow passages. Had the circumstances been different, there would have been significant issues.
World Rugby said: “While fans were able to take their seats, the fan experience is of paramount importance and we are working with all stakeholders to establish the facts and implement measures to prevent such delays to the remaining matches of the 2023 Rugby World Cup at the venue.” They subsequently apologized and promised to increase the number of volunteers and announcements to help fans get to venues.
Just a few comments on this trite corporate talk. Many fans were unable to take their seats, and many of those who were were unable to do so without missing part of the game. If World Rugby and the French Rugby Federation want to learn how to run events, they should talk to the organizers of London 2012, who had thousands of visible and well-informed staff and volunteers who truly believed that the fan experience was paramount.