French football plunged into a new abyss of violence after the Olympique de Marseille v Olympique Lyonnais game was called off when the visitors’ bus was pelted with stones and beer bottles, injuring Lyon coach Fabio Grosso on Sunday.
Grosso sustained face injuries in another episode of fan brutality to rock Ligue 1, which two years ago was marred by several acts of violence and crowd troubles.
Since the incidents happened outside Marseille‘s Stade Velodrome, the French League (LFP) have no jurisdiction to sanction the home team.
The incidents are a bad look for the LFP, who have been negotiating a TV rights deal for 2024-29, with the tender ending on Thursday, and made for embarrassing footage less than a year before the Paris 2024 Olympics.
Some preliminary round Olympic matches will be played in Marseille, where violence erupted at the 1998 World Cup between England fans and French police.
“OL regrets that this type of situation recurs every year in Marseille and calls on the authorities to assess the seriousness and repetition of this type of incident before an even more serious tragedy occurs,” Lyon said in a statement, with the club adding they would lodge a formal legal complaint.
“What happened to Fabio Grosso is totally unacceptable,” OM president Pablo Longoria said.
“This is something that cannot happen in football. Even if it happened outside of the stadium, it is unacceptable. I am angry and appalled by the situation.”
Sports minister Amelie Oudea-Castera said: “These unacceptable acts deny the very values of soccer and sport, and the perpetrators must all be found and severely punished.
Seven suspects had been arrested on Sunday night, the minister added.
Sunday was not the first time that the away team bus has been targeted in Marseille, with previous incidents reported in 2016 and 2019.
It also came after fan trouble marred the 2021-2022 season.
That time Nice were docked two points after serious incidents during their game against Marseille when visiting players clashed with home fans who pelted them with missiles and stormed on to the pitch.
The northern derby between RC Lens and Lille was also hit by crowd problems, with the start of the second half delayed after rival fans threw objects at each other before people ran onto the pitch, prompting riot police and stewards to intervene.
In that 2021-2022 season, there had also been crowd trouble in Montpellier, Angers, Marseille and St Etienne.