Players' security was not guaranteed, says Marseille president after a massive brawl

Arsh Asthana/Dubai
Filed on August 23, 2021
Marseille's French midfielder Dimitri Payet (centre) reacts as players stop a fan (right) invading the pitch during the French League match. — AFP

Nice’s president Jean-Pierre Rivere believes that Marseille must take some of the blame

Marseille president Pablo Longoria said the safety of the players was paramount as the club officials were forced to abandon the Ligue 1 match against Nice after a massive brawl involving players and fans.

Longoria spoke about the unsavoury incident in a video shared on Twitter.

"Ligue 1 decided the match should resume. But we decided, for the security of our players, who have been attacked and because the pitch was invaded, that we could not return to the pitch, since the security of our players was not guaranteed," he said.

Marseille had been involved in a similar situation two weeks ago when a league match between them and Montpellier was briefly halted after Marseille player Valentin Roniger and Montpellier’s Florent Mollet were hit on the head.

"This is already the second time this season that we've been in this situation: it happened in Montpellier already. There, we decided to resume the match. What happened today is completely unacceptable. We must set a precedent for French football by taking a stand,” Longoria said.

Nice’s president Jean-Pierre Rivere believes that Marseille must take some of the blame, saying ‘it's disappointing that the game ended like this'.

"Everyone saw what happened. Water bottles were thrown, we can't dispute that. I think that unfortunately what set things off was the two Marseille players reactions, who threw bottles at our supporters' stand,” he added.

"After that, things went from bad to worse. I think that the Marseille security service should not have intervened on the pitch, and especially not hit our players, because two of our players were hit. But that's not the point."

During the 75th minute, Marseille Midfielder Dimitri Payet was preparing to take a corner kick, when he was hit by a bottle which he then threw back into the crowd.

Payet’s team-mates Alvaro Gonzalez and Matteo Guendouzi ran towards the end of the ground to support him in the moments that followed, while Nice captain Dante tried to calm down the angry supporters.

The security staff at the ground tried to hold the fans back, but eventually, they spilled over on the pitch.

Players, stewards and the coaching staff tried to de-escalate the situation, but a massive fight broke out between fans and both sets of players.

Both teams then found a way to safely exit the field, but the chaos continued as Marseille coach Jorge Sampaoli had to be held back by his staff.

After a delay of more than 90 minutes, Nice players and match officials walked back onto the pitch in an attempt to restart the game.

But the Marseille team refused to finish the game due to security concerns.

As a result, the match was abandoned with 15 minutes left.

The two clubs have been summoned by the French league following the incident.

“Following the serious incidents of the OGC Nice - Olympique de Marseille meeting (3rd day of Ligue 1 Uber Eats), the Disciplinary Commission of the LFP summons the two clubs for the session on Wednesday, August 25, 2021,” Ligue de Football Professionnel (LFP) said in a statement.

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