Ligue 1 has been hit by further crowd trouble with Lyon vs Marseille being postponed after Dimitri Payet was hit by a bottle while taking a corner early in the first half.
French football has been blighted by similar incidents in recent years and there was no respite from this shame on Sunday night.
Just four minutes into the game at the Groupama Stadium, Payet was struck by a fully-filled water bottle thrown from the crowd. The blow caused the forward to sink to the turf and he required on-field treatment.
Soon after, referee Rudy Buquet told both sets of players to return to the dressing room, as is procedure in these situations.
Following a break of over an hour, Lyon ejected the guilty supporter from the stadium and warned that further misbehaviour in the stands would result in the match being abandoned.
After this the Lyon players emerged to warm-up, suggesting that the match would be resumed. However, they soon returned to the dressing room, amid disagreements between the French Football Federation and local authorities over whose responsibility it was to call off the match.
This uncertainty was eventually ended just after 22:30 local time, when it was confirmed that proceedings would not be resumed.
Speaking as a television pundit, Thierry Henry said: “What is damaging is that it will have repercussions. In England, for example, it will be seen. A match interrupted by imbeciles. It’s a shame because it puts a strain on our beautiful league.”
After the match Lyon CEO Jean-Michel Aulas added: “There have been a number of delays. Regarding the incident, it was a bottle thrown at Dimitri Payet. We send him our apologies. The perpetrator was immediately reported and caught. It’s an isolated act.
“After a rather long discussion, a decision was taken by Mr. Buquet. When there are 55,000 people in a stadium, precautions must be taken. The referee summoned everyone a second time to announce that he had changed his mind.
“The match was postponed after an hour and a half. Our players followed Mr. Buquet’s orders by returning to warm up. Then the referee changed his mind so they returned to the locker room. They wisely waited for the decision and acceded to it.
“The perpetrator has been arrested. The individual in question was isolated. It is a pity that a generality has been drawn from that.”
The French Football Federation has been criticised for its failure to stamp out crowd disorder in Ligue 1. There has been numerous incidents recently, including Marseille ultras storming the club’s training ground back in 2020 to voice their displeasure at the team’s performances.
This season OM fans have again been embroiled in violent clashes during games against Montpellier, Angers and Nice – though the latter was sparked by an opposition supporter throwing a missile at Payet.
Marseille are not the only side with issues, though, as this latest incident shows.
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