Authorities have ordered a four-match stand closure and arrested a man after ugly scenes caused Nice’s Ligue 1 game with Marseille to be abandoned.
The Alpes-Maritimes department said the Popular South stand of Nice’s Allianz Riviera stadium would be closed after the brawl between fans and players. A 28-year-old man was taken into custody for his part in Sunday’s melee.
Marseille’s Dimitri Payet was hit by a bottle and threw it back into the crowd, causing fans to storm the pitch. Nice’s players returned to the pitch after a delay, but Marseille’s did not. The game was abandoned as a result with Nice leading 1-0 through Kasper Dolberg’s first-half goal.
Bernard Gonzalez, prefect of the Alpes-Maritimes department, said: “In view of the seriousness of the incidents that occurred, and without waiting for the sanctions to be decided by the professional football league (LFP), the prefect of the Alpes-Maritimes has taken the following decisions this evening: closure of the Populaire Sud stand, where the incidents occurred, for the next four home matches.”
On Monday, Ligue de Football Professionnel, the French league’s governing body, said that following the “serious incidents”, both clubs had been summoned to its disciplinary commission on Wednesday. French Sports Minister Roxana Maracineanu also called the incident “an insult for sport and football”.
Mayor of Nice Christian Estrosi added: “This violence is unacceptable. Sanctions must be taken by the French football league once they have found out who was responsible.” Some Marseille players were reportedly injured in the trouble. “Our players were attacked,” said club president Pablo Longoria.
“We decided for the safety of our players, who were attacked during the pitch invasion, not to resume the match because the safety of our players was not guaranteed.” The chaos continued as the players tried to leave the pitch, with scuffles breaking out and Marseille coach Jorge Sampaoli having to be held back by his staff.
Marseille players had been targeted by plastic water bottles from that section of the crowd throughout the match, before one hit Payet and saw the former West Ham midfielder fall to the ground.
In the melee that followed, team-mates Alvaro Gonzalez and Matteo Guendouzi ran towards the end of the ground to face down the fans and Nice skipper Dante then attempted to calm angry supporters.
A security cordon of stewards tried to stem the pitch invasion before clashes broke out between players of the two teams, supporters and staff. Players and officials eventually made it off the pitch and down the tunnel away from the trouble.
The match was attended by a crowd of more than 32,000 with spectators allowed back inside stadiums in France after the majority of the 2020-21 season was played behind closed doors due to coronavirus restrictions.
The fracas followed Marseille’s opening 3-2 win at Montpellier two weeks ago was held up when fans threw bottles onto the pitch. That game was halted in the 89th minute after Marseille substitute Valentin Rongier was hit on the head and Montpellier’s Florent Mollet was also struck as he prepared to take a corner.