Lyon-Marseille game abandoned after Payet hit by bottle

November 22 – Despite attempts by French football authorities to crack down on fan violence, yet another damaging incident hit the country’s top-flight league on Sunday when the Lyon-Marseille fixture was abandoned after Marseille forward Dimitri Payet was hit by a bottle thrown from the stands a few minutes after kick off.

The game was suspended after just five minutes and then called off completely almost two hours later with the French League labelling the incident a “cowardly attack”.

Payet, a France international, was about to take a corner when he was hit by the object and left the pitch with an ice pack on his head. A stadium announcement initially said the game would resume but warned a further incident would lead to abandonment.

Lyon players briefly returned to the pitch to warm up ahead of the proposed resumption, but Marseille’s players remained in their changing room before the match was eventually called off.

Payet, according to the French League, was also subject to “discriminatory comments”. The stadium’s announcer initially said that the game would restart, with spectators warned any further incident would lead to it being halted for good, only for it to be declared postponed since “the referee believes safety conditions are not met.”

Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas said the club had sent Payet “our apologies” and that the perpetrator was immediately reported and caught but questioned the decision to call off the match.

“The referee summoned everyone a second time to announce that he had changed his mind. When there are 55,000 people in a stadium, precautions must be taken,” he said.

The incident was the latest in a number of Ligue 1 matches marred by crowd trouble this season. Nice were docked two points, one of them suspended, after serious incidents during their game against Marseille.

And the start of the second half of the northern derby between RC Lens and Lille in September was delayed by around half an hour after rival fans threw objects at each other before spectators ran on to the pitch, prompting riot police and stewards to intervene.

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