French football match abandoned after fans throw projectiles and invade pitch
Written by Hit Music Radio News on 23/08/2021
A French league match between Nice and Marseille was abandoned on Sunday after home fans threw projectiles and invaded the field.
Unverified photos shared on social media showed at least three players were injured.
With about 15 minutes remaining, Marseille midfielder Dimitri Payet was hit on the back by a bottle thrown from the stands.
Supporters had earlier been warned against throwing objects by the stadium announcer.
Payet, 34, threw the bottle back into the crowd, prompting a significant number of Nice fans to rush the field, and a scuffle ensued involving players and supporters.
The referee halted the match, with Nice winning 1-0 at the time, and both teams retreated to the tunnel.
Play was suspended for 90 minutes before referee Benoit Bastien declared the match abandoned, with Nice players having returned to the pitch several minutes earlier, while the Marseille players refused to join them.
Nice president Jean-Pierre Rivere had appealed to Nice supporters over the sound system for calm during the delay, but angry Marseille players and staff were adamant in refusing to carry on.
French daily L’Equipe reported that visiting players Payet, Matteo Guendouzi and Luan Peres were injured in scuffles with the crowd and that riot police were deployed in front of the tier packed with Nice fans.
Swedish striker Kasper Dolberg had put Nice ahead in the 49th minute.
Marseille president Pablo Longoria said: “The league decided to restart the match. We decided, for the safety of our players who were attacked, to not restart the match because the safety of our players wasn’t guaranteed.
“The referee agreed with us. He confirmed to us that safety wasn’t guaranteed, he didn’t want to restart the match. But the league decided to restart. That’s unacceptable for us and that’s why we decided not to restart the match and to return to Marseille.”
An automatic 3-0 victory will be given to Nice if usual French league rules are applied.
Unverified photos circulating on social media showed Payet with blood and scratches on his back, while teammates Matteo Guendouzi and Luan Peres were pictured with strangle marks on their necks.
Mr Rivère said: “It’s disappointing that the match ended this way.
“Everyone saw what happened. Our fans threw bottles, we can’t deny that. But I think that unfortunately, what sparked things off was the reaction of two Marseille players, to throw back the bottles. After that, it snowballed.
“I don’t think the Marseille security should have got involved on the pitch and they certainly shouldn’t have hit our players, because two of our players were hit. But that’s not the argument here.”
Mr Longoria said in a tweet: “The League made the decision to restart the match but we decided for the safety of our players – who had been attacked after the pitch was invaded… We decided to not return to the match because the safety of our players wasn’t guaranteed.”
© Sky News 2020