Lyon to play behind closed doors pending investigation

The disciplinary commission of the French League (LFP) said Lyon must play their Ligue 1 home games behind closed doors until it rules on Sunday’s abandoned match against Marseille.

The French ‘Olympico’ was called off almost two hours after being suspended when Marseille’s Dimitri Payet was hit by a bottle thrown from the Groupama Stadium stands.

Referee Ruddy Buquet sent the players to the dressing room after Payet fell to the ground as he was preparing to take a corner-kick.

Payet missed training on Monday and French website RMC Sport reported Marseille would press charges.

The stadium announcer initially said the match would restart, following a decision made by local Lyon authorities.

This was criticised by the LFP, which called for an emergency meeting of its disciplinary panel on Monday, resulting in Lyon playing home matches without spectators, starting with next Wednesday’s game against Stade de Reims.

Image:
Marseille’s Payet (C) is surrounded by his staff as he leaves the field after being injured by a bottle thrown from the stands

French Sports Minister Roxana Maracineanu said repeated crowd problems in Ligue 1 are putting the future of French football at risk.

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“They have to come to an agreement, this kind of problem is for the League to solve,” Maracineanu told France Info radio on Monday. Her office later told Reuters that the sports and interior ministries would meet over the matter on Tuesday.

The interior ministry added that the French federation and the LFP have been summoned to the meeting.

“Everyone must understand that it’s the survival of French soccer that’s at stake,” Maracineanu said.

Ligue 1 has been marred by fan violence this season.

Nice were docked two points, one of them suspended, after serious incidents during their game in August against Marseille, whose players clashed with home fans who pelted them with missiles and stormed onto the pitch.

The northern derby between RC Lens and Lille was hit by crowd problems in September, with the start of the second half delayed after rival fans threw objects at each other before people ran on to the pitch, prompting riot police and stewards to intervene.

There has also been crowd trouble in Montpellier, Angers, Marseille and Saint-Etienne.

Maracineanu said the incidents were a threat to French professional football’s finances.

“We can’t allow that a broadcaster, who has bought rights, must keep the conversation moving for more than an hour like they did last night, when we don’t know if the match is going to continue, it’s a world where millions of euros are at stake,” she said.

“We’ve helped the soccer world during the health crisis to allow the return of fans in the stadiums, we can’t allow things like that to happen.”

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