French match ends at halftime after fans attack Lyon players
PARIS (AP) — For the second time in a week, a high-level football match on French soil was marred by crowd violence.
The latest incidents on Sunday in Corsica during a domestic league game between Bastia and Lyon — which was abandoned at halftime — raised questions about security in French venues.
The game was stopped for good after fans from the Corsican side twice invaded the pitch to attack opposition players. After kickoff was delayed by 55 minutes, the match was abandoned when more trouble erupted at the interval with the score at 0-0.
Lyon goalkeeper Anthony Lopes was calmly walking off the field — after referee Amaury Delerue whistled the end of the first half — when he was confronted by a man. Lopes pushed him back as clashes erupted between home fans and Lyon players.
Lyon striker Alexandre Lacazette, who was rested for the game, took to Twitter to express his anger. “Pfff, shameful!!” Lacazette wrote. “Nonsense!!!!”
Speaking to L’Equipe TV, junior minister for sports Thierry Braillard condemned “unacceptable actions that will need to be sanctioned equally to their seriousness” and lamented a “bad day for French sports.”
The first pitch invasion took place about 15 minutes before the end of the warmup at Armand Cesari stadium when supporters from the Bastia 1905 group of fans came on the field and jostled with Lyon players, including Memphis Depay and Mathieu Gorgelin. Players from both teams went back to their changing rooms before calm was restored.
None of the players involved in the two brawls appeared to be injured.
The game was abandoned in accordance with French authorities’ guidance following the urgent meeting that took place before the start. The French league said in a statement that, after the first trouble, it had been decided that the match could go ahead but would be stopped if another incident happened.
It was the second time this week that a Lyon game was marred by violence. Lyon is facing likely sanctions from UEFA after crowd disorder delayed its Europa League home quarterfinal against Besiktas midweek. Incidents inside Lyon’s stadium - which will host the final of the tournament next season - followed fighting among French and Turkish fans earlier in the city on Thursday. About 20 minutes before the scheduled kickoff, Lyon fans spilled onto the field for their own safety after fireworks were set off and missiles thrown from an upper section of the stadium housing Besiktas supporters. The game finally began 45 minutes late after police intervened in the stands.
The French league said it would investigate the Bastia incidents and urged the club to ban the fans responsible.
“The French league is asking Bastia to take all necessary measures in order to issue stadium bans against those responsible for these acts,” the league said. “And more generally to take all measures required to guarantee the security of matches played in its stadium.”
In a statement issued a couple of hours after the match was abandoned, Bastia “firmly condemned” the violence and said it would attend a disciplinary committee at the French league on Thursday.
Last-placed Bastia, which has struggled the whole season, risks seeing its slim hopes of staying in the top flight hit by heavy sanctions, possibly including points deduction.
Lyon is fourth, some 19 points behind third-placed Nice, and can’t secure a top-3 finish. Monaco tops the standings with a three-point lead over Paris Saint-Germain.
MARSEILLE 4, SAINT-ETIENNE 0
Florian Thauvin scored twice to reach 12 goals in the French league, two more than the personal best he set in 2012-2013 with Bastia.
Sixth-placed Marseille moved just one point behind Bordeaux in the fight for Europa League qualification.
Two former Saint-Etienne players — Bafetimbi Gomis and Dimitri Payet — were also on the scoresheet for the hosts, who ended a series of three consecutive draws.
Marseille is now unbeaten in six league matches, its longest run this season.
NANTES 0, BORDEAUX 1
Bordeaux’s sixth away win of the season boosted its hopes of qualifying for the Europa League.
Younousse Sankhare’s winner in the 65th minute lifted the visitors to fifth place with five matches left to play.
Sankhare scored his fourth goal this season from Fancois Kamano’s assist with a low shot under ’keeper Maxime Dupe.