Lyon’s Coupe de France match against Paris FC on Friday had to be abandoned at halftime due to crowd problems, the latest in a series of violent incidents that have marred French football this season.
Trouble erupted between the two groups of supporters at half-time at the Charletty stadium in Paris.
A field invasion occurred shortly thereafter, making a restart impossible, with the decision ultimately made to abandon the game shortly thereafter.
Fighting erupted between supporters during the half-time break, flares were launched and fireworks were set off.
When the police attempted to intervene, supporters began to spill over the pitch, forcing the players and officials, who were ready to start the second half, to return to the locker rooms.
Fans were eventually kicked off the pitch as police tried to restore calm, but the decision was ultimately made to abandon the game, with the stadium announcer urging fans in the stands to leave the stadium.
The game was tied at 1-1 at this point, with Gaetan Laura’s goal for Paris FC being called off by Moussa Dembele shortly before the break.
Presidents blame each other
Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas and Paris FC president Pierre Ferracci both seemed to blame each other for the crowd disturbances which led to the match being abandoned.
Talk to RMC Sport, Ferracci said: “I think it’s in Jean-Michel Aulas’ best interests to weigh the pros and cons because he has a group of fanatics who shouldn’t be near a football field.
“Aulas is smart enough to know his club have problems and French football will have problems if they continue like this.”
Giving his version of the facts, Aulas said: “Responsibilities are shared, it is a social problem.
“The first firecrackers launched were on Lyon supporters and therefore were not made by Lyon supporters. Then there was a rebellion. We also saw hundreds of people on the ground who were not from Lyon.
“We have to analyze and find those responsible. We will punish them, but we cannot take full responsibility.”
The bigger picture
French football has been plagued by crowd violence and hostility towards players this season.
Lyon scored a point in Ligue 1 last month because their clash with Marseille was abandoned after Marseille midfielder Dimitri Payet was hit by a water bottle thrown from the crowd.
Marseille’s match with Nice was also abandoned in August following another incident involving Payet.
The former West Ham man narrowly avoided a water bottle thrown at him from the stands and furiously sent it back into the crowd – triggering a flood of ultras leaping over the billboards to make it to the ground.
Other matches involving Montpellier, Lens, Lille, Angers and Bordeaux were also overshadowed by crowd violence, both inside and outside the stadiums.