August 23 – Sunday’s high-profile top-flight French derby between Nice and Marseille had to be abandoned after home fans threw missiles and invaded the pitch.
In the 75th-minute incident, Marseille’s Dimitri Payet was hit by a bottle and threw it back into the crowd prompting fans to storm the pitch as stewards and players struggled to restrain them.
The chaos continued as the players tried to leave the playing area, with scuffles breaking out and Marseille coach Jorge Sampaoli having to be held back by his staff.
After a long delay, Nice’s players came out to finish the game – but Marseille’s players refused to. Play was held up for 90 minutes before the game was declared abandoned with Nice leading 1-0 at the time through Kasper Dolberg’s first-half goal.
“Our players were attacked,” said Marseille president Pablo Longoria. “We decided not to resume the match because the safety of our players was not guaranteed.”
The incident came just two weeks after Marseille’s opening 3-2 win at Montpellier when fans pelted the pitch with bottles. That game was halted in the 89th minute after Marseille substitute Valentin Rongier was hit on the head. Montpellier’s Florent Mollet was also hit as he prepared to take a corner.
“This is the second time it’s happened,” added Longoria. “We have already experienced this in Montpellier where we decided to continue after the decision to carry on was made.
“What happened today is unacceptable. We must make it a precedent for French football and that’s why we decided to return to Marseille.”
However, Nice president Jean-Pierre Rivere, who had appealed for calm over the stadium’s public address system during the delay, felt some blame for the scenes lay with Marseille.
“It’s disappointing that the game ended like this,” he said. “Everyone saw what happened. We can’t deny that water bottles were thrown because we could all see it. What ignited the clashes was the reaction of two Marseille players who retaliated.
“Afterwards, it is deplorable that the Marseille security staff intervened on the ground and hit our players.”
League rules say if a team fails to fulfil a fixture, then the opposition will be awarded a 3-0 win but Marseille seem likely to appeal such a decision.
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