French side Nice ordered to close south stand amid investigation into violent scenes which marred Ligue 1 clash with Marseille
Nice will play their next four home games with their south stand closed amid a probe into the scenes during Marseille's visit on Sunday, as it emerges that a fan remains in hospital after being 'knocked out' by a Marseille coach.
The game in French top flight Ligue 1 was abandoned shortly after dozens of Nice fans invaded the pitch in protest after Marseille's former West Ham player, Dmitri Payet, threw two plastic bottles into the crowd in retaliation after he was knocked to the ground by a projectile that him on the shoulder and was thrown from the south stand at the Allianz Riviera Stadium.
Furious Payet's remonstration was met with anger by Nice supporters, some of whom attempted to confront the player as the game descended into chaos, with Marseille later saying that three of their players were injured in the clashes.
Both clubs were called to an emergency meeting with French league authorities on Monday after a statement was released in which they "strongly condemned" the violence – with action already being taken to prevent similar incidents by French police, who confirmed that "anti-projectile fencing" will be installed in front of the south stand which most often houses Nice's so-called 'ultras' supporters.
Pitch invasion by fans during Nice-Marseille pic.twitter.com/s0drLdN97b— 🚽。 (@gexmsvivi) August 22, 2021
"In view of the seriousness of the incidents that occurred, and without waiting for the sanctions to be decided by the professional football league (LFP), the prefect of the Alpes-Maritimes has taken the following decisions this evening: closure of the Populaire Sud stand where the incidents occurred for the next four home matches," Bernard Gonzalez, of the local police, stated.
It was also revealed that a 28-year-old football supporter has been arrested on suspicion of attacking a Marseille player, while Nice prosecutor Xavier Bonhomme also confirmed that numerous investigations have been opened as a result of fans being suspected of "throwing projectiles" and "aggravated violence".
Meanwhile, Nice acknowledged in their own statement that "a few individuals" were guilty of taking part in the violence – but were critical of Marseille staff, who they say attacked two of their players, Justin Kluivert and Jean-Clair Todibo.
One of the Marseille staff ran on and lumped a Nice fan ffs 🤣 pic.twitter.com/Vq0aq1rN1u— Pato (@jpaterson97) August 22, 2021
They also claimed that one of their supporters "remains in hospital" after being attacked by members of the Marseille staff.
"While nothing can excuse the actions of a few individuals guilty of throwing bottles...there is no doubt that it was the attitude and actions of several members of Olympique de Marseille that saw the incident escalate out of control," the club said.
"One should not overlook the provocative actions of several Marseille players in the first half, which only added to tensions around the stadium."
Nice mayor Christian Estrosi couldn't resist taking part in the blame game, saying that any supporters found guilty should be adequately punished – but he also took aim at Marseille's role in the incident.
"Violence is always intolerable. There must be punishments after [the league] has determined who was responsible," he said. "The behavior of some supporters was unspeakable but so was that of the Marseille president in the stands and the coach on the field."Also on rt.com ‘A red line has been crossed’: French sports minister responds to violent scenes in Nice-Marseille game as probe launched