Tuesday, August 24, 2021
Arrest, grandstand closed
Shabby aftermath after “Shame” from Nice
After the shame of Nice, the process of coming to terms with it begins. A man is arrested, a grandstand is closed, an investigation is underway and the French league has announced sanctions. Meanwhile, the struggle for the sovereignty of interpretation has begun. Who is to blame? Nice or Marseille?
The “shame” of Nice is now also a concern of the public prosecutor’s office. After the turmoil at the Mediterranean derby between OGC Nice and Olympique Marseille, which led to the game being abandoned, a 28-year-old was arrested and taken into custody late on Monday. The man, likely a Nice fan, is accused of beating a Marseille player. The public prosecutor’s office has already announced that it will initiate further investigations, in particular for “throwing projectiles” and “heavy violence.”
The riots in the Stade de Nice will also have immediate consequences for the host club. In the coming games, OGC will have to do without the powerful voice of one of the grandstands. “Given the seriousness of the incidents and without waiting for the sanctions imposed by the Football League (LFP), the Prefect of the Alpes-Maritimes department has taken the following decisions: to close the Populaire Sud grandstand, where the incidents occurred, for the next four home games”, explained Bernard Gonzalez.
The bottle throw
Some fans of the host team had thrown bottles of water at Marseille player Dimitri Payet as he was preparing for a corner kick just in front of the home fans’ corner. One of them hit him in the back. After Payet had thrown one of the bottles back into the block, there had been a riot in the Stade de Nice. Some fans stormed over the gangs onto the field and there were brief arguments. Marseille coach Jorge Sampaoli, nicknamed “el Loco”, the madman, was furious. He wanted to get involved and had to be held back by his own staff so as not to attack the Nice officials.
After that, both teams retreated to the stadium’s catacombs and stayed there during the one-hour break in the game. Although the team from Nice returned to the field, the guests from Marseille stayed in the dressing room. The referee had no choice but to abandon the game.
The League’s Reaction
The French football league summoned both clubs to the disciplinary committee on Wednesday and already announced sanctions for the incident that cast the league in a bad light just a few weeks after the leap in popularity with the signing of Lionel Messi worldwide. France’s Sports Minister Roxana Maracineanu was also shocked by the incidents, calling her an “insult to football” and calling for sanctions.
Former Hertha BSC player Matteo Guendouzi, who moved from Arsenal to Marseille in the summer, and his teammate Luan Peres are said to have injured themselves in the riots. Images circulating on the net and published online by “L’Equipe” showed both players with abrasions on their necks. Former French international Payet suffered a minor back injury.
Fight for the sovereignty of interpretation
Immediately after the riots, both the clubs and the cities of Nice and Marseille began to assign blame to one another. For OGC President Jean-Pierre Rivere, the situation had escalated due to the intervention of Olympique security personnel. His counterpart, Pablo Longoria, saw the safety of his players at risk. According to eyewitness reports, the two presidents had already clashed during the game in the official gallery.
Meanwhile, the mayors of the two cities attacked each other. Nice’s Christian Estori called the riots “unacceptable”, but he insisted that the behavior of the Marseille president and the coach had also been “indescribable”. Estori’s counterpart from Marseille, Benoit Payan, commented: “Injured players, poor security. A sad decision, but the game could not be restarted. I am proud of my team that did not engage in this charade.”
On the night of Monday, Marseille fans gave the returning players a triumphant welcome and greeted them with fireworks, pyro and chants.