On 29th October, Olympique Lyonnais’ team bus was attacked by Olympique de Marseille fans en route to the Vélodrome. OL manager Fabio Grosso was notably injured. The window next to the Italian manager, who was then hit by a bottle thrown by an OM fan, according to owner JohnTextor. The wound sustained required 12 stitches. With Lyon’s six other buses, carrying supporters to the stadium for the Choc des Olympiques, also coming under attack, the decision was taken to abandon the match just minutes before the scheduled kick-off time. The LFP, France football’s governing body, has said that they will not take any action, inciting anger from Les Gones.
Lyon fans banned from rescheduled Marseille match
The LFP announced last week that a new date for the fixture has been set. Despite the violent incidents that transpired on that evening in late October, the match will nonetheless take place with supporters in attendance, according to RMC Sport, but not Lyon fans. France’s Sports Minister Amélie Oudéa-Castera has said that OL fans will be banned from making the trip to Marseille for the re-arranged match on 6th December.
Lyon are incensed, not only by the conditions in which the re-arranged match will take place but also by the lack of sanctions. In a communiqué from the LFP on Wednesday, it was revealed that Marseille would not be punished for the incidents as they took place in a public space and not within the stadium itself. “As a result, the committee will not discipline these incidents,” concluded the press release. Lyon responded on Thursday, stating that they are “deeply shocked” by the disciplinary committee’s decision and announced that they have contested the LFP’s judgement.
“A manager almost loses an eye and the only lesson is that we, Lyon, have to do things differently” – Ponsot
The club’s director of football, Vincent Ponsot, believes that Lyon are being vilified. “The disciplinary committee have taken a political decision in declaring themselves unable (to sanction the incidents) on the pretext that they took place outside the stadium […],” said Ponsot in an interview on Friday.
In a letter to the Bouches-du-Rhône Prefecture, who in collaboration with the LFP, have dictated the conditions in which next month’s OM-OL will be played, Ponsot added, “Three things are expected: a ban on OL supporters, a more secure bus with double-glazing and anti-blast and for our hotel to be chosen for us. It is therefore our fault. A manager almost loses an eye and the only lesson is that we, OL, have to do things differently. If the message is that everything that happens outside the stadium has no consequences, we will have to look after ourselves from now on.”
“I was inside the bus and I was scared” – Tolisso
Speaking at Friday’s press conference, OL’s Corentin Tolisso was equally unhappy with the judgements passed by the LFP, which he described as “mad” and “absurd.”
“I don’t understand the decision, it isn’t well thought out. Our manager almost lost his eye and there is no sanction. I was inside the bus and I can tell you I was scared,” said Tolisso.
The midfielder has said that he is fearful of a return to the Vélodrome. “They told us that everyone would be okay last time. What do we do next time if the windows are smashed again? If something worse happens? Yes, I’m scared that something will happen. I don’t know what we’re waiting for to give a sanction. So, we’ll just go back there as if nothing happened,” he added.
Lille fans voice discontent
Grosso, who also spoke at the press conference, with 12 stitches in his face from the attack added, “I was almost sure that we wouldn’t be going back to their stadium. But I see that that is not currently the case. I hope [the LFP] will take another decision because something very, very serious occurred. It isn’t normal. We can’t treat it as though it were normal.”
He echoed calls from the club’s hierarchy, as well as former president Jean-Michel Aulas, for a “strong” decision to be taken. “Something unacceptable happened and when that happens, you have to make a strong decision, otherwise those unacceptable things will happen again,” said Grosso.
As a result of the event, Lille OSC fans were banned from travelling to the Vélodrome the following weekend. “OM-OL: Lyon stoned, Lille sanctioned,” read a banner at Les Dogues’ match against Toulouse FC on Sunday. Lyon feel punished, Lille feel punished, and the only team yet to be ‘punished’ are Marseille.