VERDICT | The cowardly assault on Lyon players at Everton is nothing to be laughed at

On Thursday evening at Goodison Park, Lyon goalkeeper Anthony Lopes barged into Everton’s Ashley Williams, only to see the burly central defender push him into the ground whilst in mid-air, causing a fracas just behind the goal. During that scuffle, a man in the stands decided it would be a bright idea to attempt to strike the Portuguese shot-stopper during the melee.

Whilst he did that, he was holding a small child in the other arm. An indefensible act, born out of an era many thought we were past.

First and foremost, player safety must take the upmost importance. It’s an issue that cropped up all-too-often last season in France, from fans attempting to throw things at players to even invading the pitch.

In fact, Lopes has been involved in more incidents than anyone with fans who fail to control themselves. Back in December, the Lyon man was hit by a flare during a game against Metz, the firecracker exploding and leaving the goalkeeper temporarily deaf.

He was also one of the Lyon players attacked by Bastia fans who pitch invaded back in April. It was not at all pleasant to watch, as he attempted to defend himself against thugs in a scene that all players must imagine as their worst nightmare in the cauldron that is football.

But it seems that this kind of outrageous behaviour isn’t exclusive to a small section of nonces on the continent.

Questions arose immediately surrounding this, starting with stewarding. There was a steward close to the action and whilst an admittedly tough job, it should have been his responsibility to stand between the pitch and the fans, even as the player brawl came closer in proximity to the crowd.

Second to this, the refereeing of the incident was frankly abysmal.Bas Nijuis blew the whistle for a foul, then simply hovered around watching like he was at a boxing event rather than officiating a football match.

How he doesn’t stamp out this dangerous situation quickly is laughable, but you would think with all that observing he did, he would at least serve the right punishment. Two yellow cards for what frankly were quite ugly scenes was a slap on the wrist at best, a tap on the bottom to go run home at worst.

Back to the imbecile who decided to get physical and looking back, there were more than one looking to have a cheap shot, they should be banned for life.

From every stadium in the UK and preferably Europe, if there was an ability to track it, which is unlikely.

Those individuals are not fans. They don’t represent Everton Football Club either, a proud club with a strong tradition who should be swinging the hammer over their heads for this.

It’s an embarrassment to them, someone so glued to his “support” of his team that he feels he needed to get physically involved. Those are archaic thoughts, shared by louts that have evaporated into the distance but on occasion, they still rear their ugly heads.

Not to mention, the incident where Lyon fans were attacked before and after the game by locals, according to Le Progrès. Luckily, neither were seriously injured but it’s an indictment of the thug mentality that creeps in to the English mentality all too often.

At the end of it all, the thoughts go back to the child in that man’s arms. What kind of example is he being set? Is this the future he wants his child to grow into? I hope not.

Those that did have a giggle was likely in the absurdity of it all. It felt like a parody, yet unfortunately it was all too real.



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