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Coronavirus: Marseille president Eyraud and Lyon counterpart Aulas clash over COVID-19

By Sacha Pisani

Lyon, March 15: Marseille president Jacques-Henri Eyraud and Lyon counterpart Jean-Michel Aulas have been involved in a COVID-19 spat after the latter proposed the Ligue 1 season should be cancelled amid coronavirus.

The Ligue de Football Professionnel (LFP) confirmed on Friday all matches in Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 had been suspended until further notice in an attempt to combat the spread of COVID-19, which has claimed more than 5,500 lives globally.

Outspoken Lyon president Aulas called for the Ligue 1 season to end now, with no champion or relegation – meaning Paris Saint-Germain, who are 12 points clear atop the table through 28 rounds, would miss out on the title.

Aulas' position has angered Marseille's Eyraud, whose side are second in the standings, while Lyon are seventh and 10 points adrift of the Champions League places.

"When his fever has come down, Jean-Michel Aulas will see the obscenity of his opportunism and will quickly return to the values that make him a great footballing operator," Eyraud told Le Journal du Dimanche.

"We are well-versed in Jean-Michel Aulas' obsessive desire to defend Lyon with everything he has. But this is taking the mickey. Do you really love football when, without consulting anyone, you suggest annulling 28 sets of games that have already been played. 25,200 minutes worth of effort, joy and difficult moments. 25,200 minutes of sharing moments between Ligue 1 players.

"Should we dissolve them owing to the selfishness of one individual who wants his team in the Champions League? So, because his Lyon players are you to qualify for the biggest prize, there remains a joker card: the coronavirus. It is simply enough to vanish this championship into a cupboard of bad memories and for Jean-Michel Aulas to administer an anti-defeat vaccine. Come on, let's pretend that this season never existed. Let's was our hands with lotion that destroys sports results and erases reality from the field.

"The very idea of using this widespread challenge for personal gain is indecent. Let us live up to the values of sport, let us be an example as a football family that seeks to defend the general interest."

Aulas hit back via Twitter on Saturday, writing: "Good for you and your disciples that ridiculousness is less deadly than the coronavirus. In terms of everything else, I hope with all my heart that the league will get going again quickly and that we will be able to finish it like our Champions' League match and the cup final.

"For you JH, the most difficult times are just beginning. Football has never been JH's strong suit: after suggesting to increase the number of points a team could get from a match if they scored goals from outside of the box, the €200million loss that he has run up in three years, despite FFP [Financial Fair Play] only allowing him to have a €30m loss, now he has exposed himself to a potential defamation suit because he has twisted my words!"

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Story first published: Sunday, March 15, 2020, 7:30 [IST]
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