November 3 – It must rank as one of the most bizarre as well as earliest and contentious sendings-off in history.
Without having even kicked a ball, Marseille’s former Manchester United defender player Patrice Evra was dismissed Thursday evening for kicking one of his team’s fans in the head before the Europa League defeat at Vitoria Guimaraes.
Footage shows the 36-year-old, who had been named as a substitute, aiming an acrobatic kick at a supporter at the side of the pitch during the warm-up. Since he was red-carded before kick-off, Marseille were able to start with 11 players but went on to lose 1-0 anyway.
One video showed Evra climb over the advertising hoardings to talk to fans behind the goal. UEFA said Evra had been given a red card without any further explanation but Marseille said after the game that Evra had been sent off over “an altercation with supporters during the warm-up”, although it did not specifically mention the kick.
French newspaper L’Equipe reported Marseille supporters had been jeering Evra for about half an hour while the players prepared for the game.
“Pat has experience and he must not react, it’s obvious,” said Marseille coach Rudi Garcia. “You can’t respond to insults, as bad as they are and as incredible as they might be. He must learn to keep his cool.”
After considering the case overnight, UEFA immediately banned Evra for “at least one match” and said its disciplinary body would examine the incident further at its next meeting on November 10 when he seems likely to be sanctioned for longer. Both Marseille and Guimaraes were charged with various other misdemeanours.
Marseille say they have also officially opened an investigation into the incident.
“Olympique de Marseille has noted the altercation between an individual and Patrice Evra during the warm-up at the game against Guimaraes (on Thursday),” a club statement read. “An internal investigation has been opened to establish responsibilities.”
Evra, who won five Premier League titles and the Champions League during eight years at Manchester United, joined Marseille from Juventus in January but has made only two appearances this season.
Thursday’s incident evoked memories of Eric Cantona’s infamous kung-fu kick during Manchester United’s game against Crystal Palace in January 1995. Cantona was subsequently banned for nine months by the English Football Association.
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