As the season comes to a close, SC Bastia are fighting for their Ligue 1 lives. Owing to their reputation for violence, many fans and players would relish to see Bastia banished to Ligue 2. However, I, your humble correspondent, am not one of those voices and here is why.
Bastia has been more recently known for their crowd and fan antics rather than football. Yet, this 1905 club’s history has to be told even if it is blemished. Though without major accomplishments, Bastia have put together pretty exciting teams over the years, even an 80’s squad lead by Ligue 1 legend Roger Milla that was able to steal a Coupe de France from Platini.
Bastia is and has been the pride of the island surpassing even the Corsican capital club AC Ajaccio. The fans of Bastia are proud though at times their energy is misplaced-to put it kindly. Their passion is showcased through their banners and unique and intimidating atmosphere. They are a part of Ligue 1 and worth celebrating.
However, these unruly fans though part of the Corsican clubs culture have simply gone too far, too may times this season and in years past. Vicious physical and verbal attacks on players, such as the recent fight that broke out between Lyon players who were targeted on the pitch by marauding ultras, are sometimes overlooked as a “Corsican thing.” These attacks are absolutely unacceptable and we should normalise or accept any form of verbal or physical harm to our players. However, the majority of Bastia fans reject the actions of these violent fans.
The majority of them want safe stands to bring their children to, a match without stoppage for unneeded disruptions, and a competitive team to root for. This widespread disapproval of a minority’s action was shown as a backdrop of the Bastia-Lyon match as the troublemakers’ actions were denounced by their fellow fans. This should be seen as hopeful and applauded.
Some of the voices that called for point deductions for Bastia do so out of other motives. Some simply do not wish to address the problem of the long standing strain between Franco-Corsican relations. Sweeping this issue under the rug is not the answer and though keeping Bastia in Ligue 1 might keep the issue on the front line. Sometimes football takes a bigger stage than the game itself. So whilst Bastia should be punished, we should also support the fans who denounced a minority’s unacceptable actions.
Regardless of if Bastia finds itself in Ligue 1 next season or not, it is on the ownership to demand more from themselves and the fans alike. As French football reporters, it is up to us to fight against negative actions whilst reminding the world of football that a small group of individuals can ruin everything. To alienate the club would be to cause further divide and just as there is no room for racial slurs coming from the crowd, there is no room for turning our backs on a longstanding Ligue 1 club.
With one match left in the Ligue 1 season, Bastia have done their part to take their future to the last day after a crucial win over Lorient. Bastia still require a little fortune tonight, but don’t count against that die-hard spirit ingrained within the club that has seen them clutch on to their Ligue 1 status even when it looked like they had no chance in recent seasons to serve them excellently once again.