Crowd trouble putting future of French football at risk

Repeated crowd problems in Ligue 1 are putting the future of French football at risk, French Sports Minister Roxana Maracineanu said after yesterday morning's (Singapore time) game between Lyon and Marseille was abandoned due to fan violence.

The disciplinary commission of the French League (LFP) yesterday said that Lyon would play their Ligue 1 home games behind closed doors until it rules on the incident on Dec 8 after an investigation.

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.

Payet missed training yesterday and French website RMC Sport reported that 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 yesterday, resulting in Lyon playing home matches without spectators.

"They have to come to an agreement, this kind of problem is for the league to solve," Maracineanu told France Info radio yesterday, with her office later telling Reuters the sports and interior ministries would meet over the matter today.

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 football that's at stake," Maracineanu said.

She added: "We've helped the football world during the health crisis to allow the return of fans in the stadiums, we can't allow things like that to happen." - REUTERS