Lyon games sans fans as crowd spell trouble

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Lyon to play home games without fans Image: Populous

The French professional football club Olympique Lyonnais (France) will have to play home games without fans in attendance until at least December 8th as a result of the crowd trouble that saw their Ligue 1 fixture with their peer team Olympique de Marseille postponed.

The ‘as’ stated that the match held at Groupama Stadium on November 21st was halted after Marseille player Dimitri Payet was hit by a bottle hurled by a spectator.

In a latest development, the ‘Daily Mail’ stated that the football fan who threw a bottle at Dimitri Payet’s head during the Ligue 1 clash between the French professional football club Olympique Lyonnais (France) and Olympique de Marseille on November 21st has been handed a suspended six-month jail term.

The former West Ham midfielder – who was about to take a corner kick in front of the Lyon fans at the Groupama Stadium – was struck in the head by a bottle thrown from the stands just four minutes into the game.

The ‘Daily Mail’ further stated that the guilty culprit could also be banned from the Groupama Stadium for five years after visibly hurting the 34-year-old.

Olympique Lyonnais, commonly referred to as simply Lyon or OL, is a French professional football club based in Lyon in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes (France). It plays in France’s highest football division, Ligue 1.

Olympique de Marseille, also known as OM or simply Marseille, is a French professional men’s football club based in Marseille (France). Founded in 1899, the club plays in Ligue 1 and have spent most of their history in the top tier of French football.

Parc Olympique Lyonnais, known for sponsorship reasons as Groupama Stadium is a 59,186-seat stadium in Décines-Charpieu, in the Lyon Metropolis (France). It serves as the home ground of Olympique Lyonnais.

The ‘as’ further stated that when Payet was struck with a bottle full of liquid he went to ground and required treatment, with players taken from the field at the direction of referee Ruddy Buquet.

Spectator arrested

Earlier, 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 Stade de Reims will be played without fans, with a disciplinary committee scheduled to announce any further punishment and the outcome of the game versus Olympique de Marseille on December 8th.

Among possible further sanctions is a points deduction, with Ligue 1 club OGC 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 their peer team Montpellier Hérault SC.

Payet at the receiving end

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 closed doors at Ligue 1 club ES Troyes AC neutral ground in October, with Nice served their points penalty.

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

French Sports Minister Roxana Maracineanu stated, “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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