MONTPELLIER football club have become the champions of France for the first time in the club’s history.
The victory – pipping Paris Saint-Germain - comes as the city is riding high in other sports as well, with its handball team also being the French champions – for the 14th time – and its rugby team having qualified again for the final stages of the Top 14.
They beat Auxerre 2-1, at about 23.30, after a match that was interrupted three times by rival supporters angry their club was being relegated.
Montpellier’s Olivier Giroud also took the French top goal-scorer title – his 21 goals during the championship nudging out PSG’s Brazilian Nenê.
After the game the city centre was packed with celebrating locals letting off red flares and around 20,000 watched the match on a giant screen in Place de la Comédie.
Montpellier football team is only the 13th in Ligue 1 terms of budget size, hence trainer René Girard’s post-match comments: “This has given new life to our football, it’s shown we need to fear no one, that money doesn’t bring happiness. We’re a club of mates, a club that trains people up, and it turns out that’s not a bad recipe.”
Building up sport in the city was one of the priorities of the late mayor Georges Frêche and it continues to invest in the future – €50 million is to be spent by 2016 renovating the 33,000-seater Mosson stadium.
“Frêche encouraged conditions for sport to develop in the city, notably through infrastructure. Today it’s given this result,” said Montpellier Rugby Club president Mohed Altrad.
Photo: screen shot from TF1