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Lyon fans banned after Marseille trouble

By Peter Hanson

Lyon, November 23: Lyon will have to play home games without fans in attendance until at least December 8 as a result of the crowd trouble that saw their Ligue 1 fixture with Marseille postponed.

Sunday's match at Groupama Stadium was halted after Marseille star Dimitri Payet was hit by a bottle hurled by a spectator.

The former West Ham playmaker was preparing to take a corner amid a hostile atmosphere when he was struck on the side of the head by a plastic bottle full of liquid.

Payet went to ground and required treatment, with players taken from the field at the direction of referee Ruddy Buquet.

Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas later apologised to Payet and confirmed a spectator had been arrested in connection with the incident.

A statement from the Ligue de Football Professionnel said Lyon's next home match versus Reims will be played without fans, with a disciplinary committee scheduled to announce any further punishment and the outcome of the game versus Marseille on December 8.

Among possible further sanctions is a points deduction, with Nice having been docked two, one of which was suspended, following crowd trouble at their game against Marseille this season.

French football has been plagued by a series of incidents this term, starting from the opening weekend when Marseille midfielder Valentin Rongier was struck by a bottle when celebrating a goal scored by Payet against Montpellier.

Payet was also targeted in late August when Nice fans hurled bottles onto the pitch. Payet threw a bottle back into the stands, which led to a pitch invasion from Nice ultras. On that occasion, the game was abandoned and replayed behind closes doors at Troyes' neutral ground in October, with Nice served their points penalty.

Last month, Saint-Etienne and Angers saw their fixture delayed by an hour after angry supporters hurled flares onto the pitch and demanded the resignation of Saint-Etienne boss Claude Puel. There was also trouble at Saint-Etienne's game against Lyon, while the meeting between Lens and Lille in September was held up after rival fans clashed at half-time.

French sports minister Roxana Maracineanu told France Info radio: "They have to come to an agreement, this kind of problem is for the league to solve.

"I think that everyone must understand that it is the survival of French [football] that is at stake."

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Story first published: Tuesday, November 23, 2021, 0:00 [IST]
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