A French league game between Lyon and Marseille was abandoned on Sunday night after Marseille’s Dimitri Payet was hit in the head by a bottle thrown from the home fans.
Payet had made his way over to take the set piece in the fifth minute of the Ligue 1 game at Lyon’s Groupama Stadium, but as he was lining up to send the ball into the box, a bottle thrown from the stands clipped the back of his head.
Referee Ruddy Buquet instructed the teams to go to their respective dressing rooms after Payet had received treatment and Lyon’s players attempted to calm the atmosphere.
It did look like the game might restart though. The stadium announcer said the game would resume but warned a further incident would lead to the game being abandoned.
Lyon’s players took the field to warm up, but the Marseille squad remained in their dressing room.
After a wait of almost two hours, at approximately 10:45 p.m. local time, the game was abandoned.
Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas said on the club’s official Twitter account: “We send (Payet) our apologies.”
“The perpetrator was immediately reported and caught. It’s an isolated act,” Aulas continued. “After a rather long discussion, a decision was taken by Mr. Buquet. When there are 55,000 people in a stadium, precautions must be taken. The referee summoned everyone a second time to announce that he had changed his mind.
“The match was postponed after an hour and a half. Our players followed Mr. Buquet’s orders by returning to warm up. Then the referee changed his mind so they returned to the locker room. They wisely waited for the decision and acceded to it. The perpetrator has been arrested. The individual in question was isolated. It is a pity that a generality has been drawn from that.”
The Ligue de Football Professionnel (LFP) released a statement in which it called the incident a “cowardly attack,” as well as saying Payet was also a victim of “insults of a discriminatory nature.”
“Despite the firmness of the decisions of the LFP’s Disciplinary Commission since the start of the season (points deductions, matches behind closed doors, stands closed) and the work put in with the government in order to sanction more effectively violent individuals in the stadiums, these new serious incidents act as a reminder that the security of matches is the responsibility of the host club and local authorities, to whom the final decision falls as to whether a match will restart or be definitively stopped,” it said.
“At a time when Ligue 1 Uber Eats is becoming increasingly attractive on the pitches, these serious and repeated incidents are destroying the image of the league in France and internationally.”
After an emergency meeting of the LFP’s Disciplinary Commission on Monday in light of the “new and extremely serious incidents,” it was announced that matches played at Lyon’s Groupama Stadium should be played in front of no fans until the Commission makes its final decision on the matter on Wednesday, December 8.
It means Lyon’s game against Stade de Reims scheduled for Wednesday, December 1 would be affected by this measure.
The incident continues a string of fan incidents that have occurred this season in France.
It’s the second time this season Payet has been struck by a bottle thrown from the stands.
On August 22, in a game against Nice, a bottle appeared to hit Payet on his back which he threw back into the crowd.
Payet’s teammates Álvaro González and Matteo Guendouzi ran to support him, while Nice captain Dante attempted to calm the situation.
Security staff tried to hold back fans amid escalating tensions, but they eventually spilled onto the pitch, with a melee ensuing between supporters, both sets of players and coaching staff.
As a result, Nice was handed a two-point penalty, one of which is suspended, and ordered to replay its league match against Marseille.
Payet and González have subsequently been sanctioned with one and two-game suspensions respectively.
Marseille’s physio Pablo Fernández has also been handed a ban until the end of June 2022.
The second half of the derby match between Lens and Lille was delayed by about half an hour after fans threw missiles at each other, as well as spectators making their way onto the pitch.