‘The English are still mad at us’ – France taking steps to avoid Marseille Rugby World Cup shambles

Colin Newboult

A sparse Stade de Marseille ahead of England's Rugby World Cup game with Argentina in 2023.

French sports minister Amélie Oudéa-Castera will attend England’s Rugby World Cup encounter with Japan to make sure it goes off without a hitch.

World Cup organisers, as well as World Rugby, apologised to supporters following concerning scenes in Marseille which almost led to disaster.

Fans missed the start of the Pool D match between England and Argentina due to a lack of entry points and turnstiles, insufficient staffing levels and extensive security checks.

There was also a real possibility of people getting hurt if the crushing outside outside the ground intensified.

World Rugby’s apology

The governing body released a statement following the match which read: “Fans are the heartbeat of the tournament, and we would like to apologise to fans impacted by yesterday’s access challenges.

“We are working hard to enhance the experience for all visiting Marseille for Rugby World Cup 2023.”

This incident followed the 2022 Champions League final where French authorities initially tried to blame the Liverpool fans before an independent report revealed that UEFA was at fault.

The World Cup hosts are looking to avoid a repeat of the scenes in Paris last year, as well as what happened in Marseille recently, and Oudéa-Castera will attend England’s next match in person – against Japan in Nice – to monitor the situation.

“The English are still mad at us,” She told the Financial Times.

“It was chaos at the Stade de France but that is not what happened in Marseille..

“There were no dangerous crowd movements, no criminality, and no security problems. There were just long wait times that were totally unacceptable.

“Their experience at the match against Japan must be impeccable from start to finish.”

More beer

There were also complaints about the beer supply, with organisers failing to keep up with demand at the Stade Velodrome.

“We will ensure that the service and the experience inside the stadium is better,” Oudéa-Castéra said.

“I want to reconcile with the English.”

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