The situation is chaotic between some supporters of Nîmes, especially the group “Gladiators 1991”, and the president of the club, Rani Assaf. The two parties have been at odds for several months, with relations deteriorating within ten days. A meeting was organized for Saturday to try to ease tensions, it turned out to be a failure.
The descent into hell is under way for Nîmes Olympique. Ninth in Ligue 1 in 2018-2019, following their promotion to the top flight, Crocos are currently 17th in Ligue 2. Behind the scenes, the rag is on fire and the relationship between club president Rani Assaf and some supporters – including the group “Gladiators 1991” – may have just reached the point of no return. After months of tension, the fighting between the two camps returned to a new dimension ten days ago. And the meeting organized this Saturday to ease tensions only made matters worse.
A conflict that lasted for several months
The feud between some supporters of Nîmes Olympique and the president of the club is not new. The situation has continued to deteriorate for over a year now. It all started in August 2021. Rani Assaf, the president of the Gard club decided to change the price of match tickets in the popular stands, without reducing the price, as recalled in Free lunch. 15 euros instead, a significant increase of 78% compared to the previous season, where the club even played in Ligue 1. This decision was never passed on the side of the fans.
A few months ago, in November 2021, when some of the supporters had just boycotted a match against Quevilly-Rouen, the president wanted to make a move to his supporters, by offering them to join a charter “of club values, fraternity, access for young people to football”. He also hopes to convince them to join a “supra association”. In addition to the smoke bombs, the Lebanese businessman blamed the supporters for the insults they uttered in the stands: “The insults, the homophobic songs, which must be changed, he testified for The group. These attitudes, society will no longer accept them.”
This intervention was not a great success and the verbal fights continued in the stands and through the media. In February, the case took a new twist.
The club and the Gladiators 1991 engaged in a real battle
On Saturday February 5, a banner placed in the stands sent a clear message to the management: “Assaf break up”. In reaction to the rebellion of the supporters, the club from the south of France decided to counter-attack.
A statement was released condemning the “insulting, xenophobic, homophobic and unacceptable chants” to which Rani Assaf was subjected. The club also indicated that it “will take the necessary steps with the competent authorities to dissolve the association”. “Many saw our birth, no one saw us die,” reacted the group of supporters.
The situation does not seem ready to improve. On September 10, during the Nîmes-Bastia match, the club decided to strike hard. A group of “Gladiators Nîmes 1991” supporters were denied entry with their drums, megaphones and tarpaulin at their Costières stadium, as shown in a video shared by The Gazette of Nimes. Dimitri Pialat, the president of the group who spoke SoFoot in “Rani Assaf dictatorship.”
“There are cases. The National Association of Supporters advised us to get a lawyer. This is a deprivation of basic freedom, it’s simple. We have our tickets, we respect the internal regulations and we were denied entry,” said Dimitri Pialat. So the case should be settled in court.
The last time meeting turned out to be a failure
This Saturday, September 24, a meeting is organized between the Nîmes club and the supporters who want it (free entry). President Rani Assaf is there, as well as “Gladiators 1991”.
the Free lunch says that the meeting will last an hour and a half (10:30 am to 12 pm), and supporters are invited to the north stand of Costières, protected from the rain that threatens to fall on the stadium. The parties engaged in an open question-and-answer session, where the microphone circulated among supporters.
About 300 people attended the venue, according to the Nimes Gazette. The topic of Gladiators 1991 and smoke bombs was not long on the table, causing initial tensions. The meeting quickly turned out of hand, with supporters outraged by Rani Assaf’s “arrogant” and “provocative” behavior. After an initial pause, the meeting continued with problematic issues.
Suddenly, the atmosphere became unbearable and the supporters made the choice to leave the bays of Costières permanently. The meeting turned disastrous and the conflict seemed to have reached a point of no return. From now on, only justice seems to bring an end to this story.