By Tenzin Dharpo
DHARAMSHALA, Sept. 30: Fans of French Ligue 1 side Olympique Lyonnais displayed a tifo that read ‘Free Tibet’ as well as the Tibetan national flag to voice their protest against the premier French football body LFP’s move to reschedule a game at an unusual time to accommodate viewers in China.
The protest by the Lyon based football club’s biggest fan group called the ‘Bad Gones’ which occupies the north stand of the Groupama stadium took place during a league game against Nantes on Saturday. Few thousand fans displayed a choreographed show of individual signs that collectively form a single spectacle that read ‘Free Tibet’ and “Free Ligue 1” in an apparent protest against the football body’s move to accommodate Chinese viewers, but at the expense of fans in the heartland of the football club.
The fan group’s official Facebook page later stated that the intent of their move was to protest against what they called a “pure market approach”. It said, “Beyond the crypto-politique aspect of this tifo, our will is especially today to remind everyone that spectators and supporters are full actors of the match and that we owe them more respect than to any What viewers.”
In recent years, the ludicrous schedules are increasing in the past few years at the expense of a single population: that of the stands, whether they are in side or corners and this for the conquest of a few hundred thousand viewers at the other end of the planet, in a pure market approach.”
The group went on to say that they are willing to further initiate similar protest using the Tibet issue which is a thorny subject for Beijing with the latter having occupied Tibet forcefully in 1959. “If the view of some Tibetan flags can mess with the league and its new diffuser under control of the Chinese State device for which this subject is tricky, we will be delighted to renew the experience,” Bad Gones 1987 – Official said on Saturday.
The French league known as Ligue 1 globally is the third most watched league in China after the English and the Spanish league respectively.
The French football received a boost after France won the world cup last year in Russia prompting a multi-million deal. In July 2018, Chinese media giant Suning Sports announced a new three-year deal for exclusive live broadcast rights to France's topflight Ligue 1 which showcases top talents like French player Kylian Mbappe and Brazilian fame Neymar.
In 2018, the French Super Cup, the annual pre-season curtain raiser between the Ligue 1 champions and Coupe de France winners, was played in Shenzhen, China. The fixture between PSG and AS Monaco drew more than 40,000 fans through the gate alone.