Nice v Marseille abandoned after missiles thrown, fans invade and players brawl

Dmitri Payet at the centre of the trouble after throwing bottle back into the crowd

The French Ligue 1 game between Nice and Marseille was abandoned on Sunday when Marseille refused to restart the game after home fans threw missiles and invaded the field.

Nice supporters ran on to the pitch and confronted visiting star Dimitri Payet after he lobbed a bottle thrown at him back into the crowd, before a mass brawl broke out involving players and spectators.

Marseille eventually refused to restart the match with club officials claiming their players' safety could not be guaranteed.

“The league decided to restart the match. We decided, for the safety of our players who were attacked, to not restart the match because the safety of our players wasn’t guaranteed,” Marseille president Pablo Longoria said.

“The referee agreed with us. He confirmed to us that safety wasn’t guaranteed, he didn’t want to restart the match. But the league decided to restart. That’s unacceptable for us and that’s why we decided not to restart the match and to return to Marseille.”

Trouble at the Allianz Riviera Stadium flared in the 75th minute when Marseille's Payet, who had been targeted by plastic bottles every time he took a corner, launched one back at the Nice fans.

Angry home supporters then clambered on to the pitch, threatening the former West Ham player.

In the melee, Marseille's Alvaro Gonzalez and Matteo Guendouzi ran towards the end of the ground to face down the fans.

Nice skipper Dante attempted to calm angry supporters while a security cordon of stewards, dressed in yellow vests, tried to stem the pitch invasion before a brawl broke out between players of the two teams, supporters and staff.

Marseille coach Jorge Sampaoli was seen being restrained by his staff and players. before the referee then both teams off to the safety of the dressing room.

Eighty minutes after the game was suspended Nice, who were leading through a Kasper Dolberg goal, said they wanted to resume.

Nice warmed up and the match was meant to restart with a Marseille corner. In surreal scenes, with no visiting players present to take the corner, the referee blew his whistle and the match was abandoned.

"The decision was taken by the authorities to resume the match, but Marseille do not want to," Nice president Jean-Pierre Rivere said.

“It’s disappointing that the match ended this way. Everyone saw what happened. Our fans threw bottles, we can’t deny that. But I think that unfortunately, what sparked things off was the reaction of two Marseille players, to throw back the bottles. After that, it snowballed.

“I don’t think the Marseille security should have got involved on the pitch and they certainly shouldn’t have hit our players, because two of our players were hit. But that’s not the argument here.”

"Our players were attacked," added Longoria. "The referee was with us, he confirmed to Jorge Sampaoli and me that safety was not guaranteed and decided to stop the game."

Nice players reportedly tried to convince their opponents to return to the field.

“I didn’t really understand the decision by our Marseille colleagues of not wanting to restart,” Rivere added. “Everyone advised them to restart, there were 15 minutes left. I talked to the supporters. They guaranteed me there wouldn’t be any more problems.

“I know very well that the match could have restarted, everyone was for it. Unfortunately Marseille didn’t want to restart. Duly noted.”

Marseille's opening 3-2 win at Montpellier two weeks ago was also held up when fans pelted the pitch with bottles.

That clash at Montpellier's Stade Mosson was halted in the 89th minute after Marseille substitute Valentin Rongier was hit on the head.

Updated: August 23rd 2021, 7:39 AM
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