French Cup game abandoned because of crowd violence
PARIS (AP) — Crowd violence forced the French Cup game between Lyon and Paris FC to be abandoned at 1-1 on Friday.
At halftime, supporters threw flares around, the field was invaded, and fights broke out in the stands.
The start of the second half at Stade Charlety was delayed for about 50 minutes when stadium authorities announced the game was abandoned.
Paris FC president Pierre Ferracci pointed the finger of blame at Lyon.
“There’s a bunch of idiots who ruined everything, as usual.” Ferracci told RMC. “And that bunch of idiots, it’s the Lyon ultras. (...) It’s obvious that the ultras came to make a mess, as usual.”
Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas sought to downplay the culpability of his club’s supporters.
“There are obviously shared responsibilities,” Aulas told a news conference. “I don’t think that we are responsible for the incidents.”
Second-division side Paris FC opened the scoring against the run of play in the eighth minute. Gaetan Laura sprinted from his own half to lead a counterattack and shot through the legs of goalkeeper Anthony Lopes from a tight angle.
Lyon striker Moussa Dembele equalized on the stroke of halftime, picking his spot from the edge of the box to fire into the top corner.
A spectator named Louis gave his account of the violence to RMC: “At halftime, there were guys behind who climbed up the fence and started fighting. There were a lot of people wearing balaclavas, they had belts, they wanted to smash as many faces as they could. I don’t know if they can be called supporters, but it’s a part of the Lyon section that caused a huge crowd rush. There was a panic reaction. They are nuts.
“Frankly, I was scared for my safety. It’s mind-boggling after everything that happened those past few months, especially with Lyon. The security, that was zero. The riot police came 10 minutes later.”
Lyon supporters are under increasing scrutiny after a French league home game was abandoned in November because Marseille midfielder Dimitri Payet was hit on the head by a bottle of water thrown from the stands. Lyon was docked a point by the disciplinary commission while Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas was handed a 10-game ban for intimidating comments made to the referee who decided to abandon the game.
Crowd violence has been a recurring issue for French football this season.
In August, a French league match between Nice and Marseille was abandoned after fans threw projectiles and ran onto the field. Payet was also hit by a bottle in that game and threw it back at the fans. Players and staff members were even involved in a brawl. Nice was handed a two-point penalty, including a suspended point.
Also in August, Montpellier fans threw projectiles at Marseille players and play was suspended for more than 10 minutes. Marseille midfielder Valentin Rongier’s lip was cut by a projectile.
In September, fans invaded the pitch in Angers as Marseille and Angers supporters fought each other.
In September, fans ran onto the field in Lens and fought each other in the stands in the northern derby with Lille. Also that month, a teenager was injured by a seat thrown in a game between PSG and Lyon.
In October, a match between Saint-Etienne and Angers was delayed for about an hour because of a pitch invasion and flares thrown onto the field before kickoff.
On Saturday, Rennes hosts Lorient in in the only last-64 clash between top-division teams, while Lille plays second-division Auxerre, and Clermont visits seventh-division Nimes Chemin Bas in the most uneven matchup of the round.
Defending champion Paris Saint-Germain visits fifth-division Feignies Aulnoye on Sunday.
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