Monday, September 20, 2021
Two ghost games for Lens
League reacts to France’s problem of violence
Ligue 1 in France wants to surf the Messi wave this season. So far, this has not been successful. The fans who have returned to the stadiums, on the other hand, make the headlines more often. So also on the weekend after a storm in Lens. The league association reacts quickly and clearly.
Because of the storm of its fans last weekend, the French first division soccer club RC Lens has to play at least its next two home games in Ligue 1 in front of a ghostly crowd. Two days after the rioting by the RCL supporters, the disciplinary commission of the national league association LFP imposed this punishment at an extraordinary meeting, but reserved further sanctions after reviewing all the results of the investigation on October 6th.
In Lens, several dozen supporters of the hosts at the northern derby against champions OSC Lille penetrated the lawn after previous arguments with visiting fans and thus provoked a 30-minute interruption of the match. According to media reports, the police also had to use water cannons to resolve the tumult. According to official sources, six people suffered minor injuries and the security forces temporarily arrested two rioters. Lens won the game 1-0 after resuming the encounter under strict security measures.
Lille also punished
Lens has two home games until the final decision of the LFP commission: on Wednesday against Racing Strasbourg and on October 1st against Stade Reims. Lille also has to pay for the involvement of its fans in the riot. During away games by the defending champion, the fan blocks for OSC supporters in opposing stadiums will remain closed until further notice.
Around four weeks ago, incidents similar to those in Lens made headlines in Ligue 1. The game between OGC Nice and Olympique Marseille had to be canceled. Marseille star Dimitri Payet had thrown a plastic bottle thrown at him back into the stands, whereupon angry supporters of the home side stormed the field.
France’s Minister of Sports, Roxana Maracineanu, called for solutions to the apparently overriding conflicts after the incidents, expressly including the supporters. “The start of the season was not helpful. We have to analyze the situation quickly. Everyone in football is called upon to do this, starting with the fans,” said the former swimming world and European champion and Olympic runner-up in 2000.