For the second time in a week, a high-level football match in France was marred by crowd violence on Sunday when fans of Corsican side Bastia twice invaded the pitch and attacked players from the opposition.
The violence, which led officials to abandon the Ligue 1 match between Bastia and Olympique Lyonnais at halftime, came just days after similar unrest marred Lyon’s Europa League tie against Turkish club Besiktas on Thursday.
The start of the match had already been delayed by nearly an hour when the Bastia supporters charged the visiting team during their warm-up, forcing Lyon's players to flee the pitch.
Former Lyon player Jeremy Berthod told the club’s official TV station that Bastia fans threw balls at visiting reserve keeper Mathieu Gorgelin's goal as he warmed up.
The balls were thrown back by Lyon forward Memphis Depay before the players were attacked by Bastia supporters.
Then at halftime, with the score at 0-0, several fans attacked Lyon goalkeeper Anthony Lopes as he headed for the dressing room, and the game was called off.
The LFP (Ligue de Football Professionnel), French football's governing body, issued a statement condemning the incidents “in the strongest possible terms”.
It decided to call off the match following consultations with local Corsican authorities in charge of public safety.
Lyon’s hellish week
The LFP said it had asked Bastia to re-examine their security arrangements and take all measures necessary to ensure that those responsible were banned from the stadium.
The league added that its disciplinary committee would consider what action to take over the incidents at the Stade Armand Cesari, known for its notoriously rowdy supporters.
Bastia, who are already bottom of the league, face a possible deduction of points, while fourth-placed Lyon are likely to be declared victors of Sunday’s aborted game.
But Lyon face an investigation of their own after the ugly scenes involving fans during their Europa League clash with Besiktas at the Parc Olympique Lyonnais.
European football's governing body UEFA began disciplinary action against both teams after Thursday’s game, which kicked off 45 minutes late due to crowd trouble.
The French club was charged with insufficient organisation and a breach of safety regulations as their supporters blocked stairways, set off fireworks and invaded the pitch after a 2-1 win in the first leg of the quarter-final.
Turkish club Besiktas were charged for crowd disturbances, throwing of objects and setting off of fireworks.
(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS, AP)
Date created : 2017-04-17