Lyon fans banned, French govt urge action

Marseille's Dimitri Payet lies on the ground after being hit by an object thrown by a Lyon fan.
Marseille's Dimitri Payet lies on the ground after being hit by an object thrown by a Lyon fan.

Lyon will have to play their Ligue 1 games behind closed doors until at least 8 December while an investigation is conducted into the crowd trouble that prompted Sunday's match against Marseille to be abandoned.

The decision came after French sports minister Roxana Maracineanu called for tough sanctions arguing the future of French soccer was at risk.

The sports and interior ministries are to meet on Tuesday with the French federation and French League summoned to attend.

"They have to come to an agreement, this kind of problem is for the League to solve," Maracineanu said on Monday. "Everyone must understand that it's the survival of French soccer that's at stake.

"What happened in Lyon is unacceptable. We need sanctions and a general, immediate and radical awareness of all soccer actors."

"Dimitri Payet has my full support," Maracineanu added. "We cannot allow players to be assaulted in this way. Such acts should result in an automatic stoppage of games at the very least."

The game on Sunday night was stopped in the fourth minute when Marseille's Payet was hit on the head by a full water bottle thrown from the stands while trying to attempt a corner kick.

The game was eventually abandoned as the Marseille team did not feel safe to return.

Lyon said the man who threw the bottle was identified via video-surveillance cameras and handed over to police after being removed by stewards.

The seven-time champions insisted that the man was not a member of an official fan group and was not a season ticket holder. Lyon said it filed a judicial complaint against the individual and would like to ban him for life.

According to L'Equipe newspaper, four people have been arrested following Sunday's match.

Following an urgent meeting of its disciplinary commission, the league said Lyon will have to play its home matches without fans until a final sanction is approved on December. 8.

Crowd violence has plagued French football this season.

Most notably, Marseille's game with Nice in August was stopped due to fan problems after Payet was hit by a bottle and threw it back into the stands. Nice were subsequently docked two points, one of them suspended.

There has also been crowd trouble at games hosted by Lens, Montpellier, Angers, Marseille and Saint Etienne.

Maracineanu said the incidents were a threat to French professional soccer's finances.

"It's a world where millions of euros are at stake," she said.

With Reuters, AP

Australian Associated Press