Crowd violence in France sparks Euro 2016 fears

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Crowd violence in France sparks Euro 2016 fears
The return of Lyon's Mathieu Valbuena to face his former club had already made for a charged atmosphere before sections of the crowd turned violent. Photo: AFP

Serious questions have been raised about France's ability to safely stage the 2016 UEFA European Championships after crowd trouble during a match at one of the host venues on the weekend.


French sports minister Thierry Braillard on Monday called for tougher controls as violence marred Ligue 1 action in France at the weekend just months ahead of Euro 2016.

The clash between Marseille and Lyon in the Velodrome Stadium on Sunday night was restarted after a 20-minute stoppage caused by missile-throwing fans.

There were also incidents during Saturday's Ligue 1 match between Bastia and Nice in Corsica as Paris Saint-Germain's fans caused trouble in the streets of Reims after a 1-1 draw.

Months ahead of the kickoff of Euro 2016 in France on June 10, an emergency meeting has been called by the French Professional Football League (LFP) in their Paris headquarters on Monday to assess the situation.

"We are after all months from a tremendous event which is the organisation of the European football championship and I really call for everyone to assess what happened," Braillard told French radio RTL.

The return of Lyon's Mathieu Valbuena to face his former club had already made for a charged atmosphere in the southern port city. Lyon were leading 1-0 when play was interrupted as objects, including bottles and cups, rained down from the stands.

The game was restarted after a 20-minute stoppage and finished in a 1-1 draw.

"This is unacceptable and I think we really need to have much firmer controls," said Braillard.

"Marseille is a footballing city. The Marseille public is known to be a great public. I think there are security measures that must be respected and we can't see glass bottles like that in the stands.

"Where are we going? Imagine that a bottle had struck a player! What situation would we be in today? It's unacceptable and I think that we really need to tighten up controls."

In addition to the club facing a hefty fine, Marseille president Vincent Labrune, could also be punished for his comments blaming the "incidents" on biased referring.

"There was a great stadium, a great atmosphere. And there was unfortunately the facts of the game which led to one or two incidents it's true," said Labrune.

"We had a remarkable refereeing quartet, they didn't do it on purpose but from what I saw it was always, always in the same direction," he added.

The atmosphere was further fueled by an ongoing feud between the club presidents with Lyon boss Jean-Michel Aulas criticising his Marseille counterpart.

"The words of Vincent Labrune are irresponsible, for me he is a clown, and I don't think he has a future in football."

In Bastia, local authorities had once again banned Nice fans from attending the game at the Furiani Stadium because of multiple incidents over the years between the two clubs.



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