The drop of water that broke the tolerance threshold for violence in French football did not spring from a vase but from a plastic bottle. On November 21, when a spectator of the Lyon-Marseille match threw this projectile, hitting the Phocaean Dimitri Payet in the head and interrupting the match after four minutes of play, he certainly did not imagine the maelstrom he had just unleashed.
On Wednesday 8 December, it was Olympique Lyonnais (OL), the main security officer within its enclosure, who paid the price. The disciplinary committee of the Professional Football League (LFP) imposed a penalty of one firm point in the standings. “A very heavy sanction” for the Rhone club which regrets in a press release “To serve as an example after a series of facts which have occurred in other stadiums since the start of the season”.
The independent body has also decided that the match will be replayed behind closed doors at a later date. The chairman of the commission, Sébastien Deneux, explained the meaning of this sanction: “Our wish is to recall that any act of violence against a player in the match exposes the responsible club to a penalty of loss of points. ”
Since the opening of the season, a wave of incidents from the stands had already destabilized a dying French football, hit by a double crisis, that of television rights (defection of Medipro) and Covid-19. Here is the sad litany: bottle throw during Montpellier-Olympique de Marseille (OM) on August 8, double bottle throw followed by an invasion of the field and clashes on August 22 during Nice-OM, then a series land invasion, clashes and degradation during Lens-Lille (September 18), Angers-OM (September 22) and Saint-Etienne-Angers (October 22).
“Stay in a disciplinary logic”
The club of President Jean-Michel Aulas had pleaded the thesis of “The individual and isolated act”, that “No one can anticipate or prevent. ” Following this incident, OL decided to install safety nets in front of the bends where their supporters take place until further notice.
According to Sébastien Deneux, the Lyon defense has been heard. “We took into consideration the actions of the Lyon club: the identification of the author of the bottle throwing and the possibility of seeing it sanctioned by justice”, he judged. Two days after the facts, the culprit – arrested immediately thanks to the cameras – had been sentenced in immediate appearance to six months in prison suspended and five years of ban on stadium.
For its part, OM demanded a sanction “Obviously greater than two points, one of which is suspended, the loss of points being inevitable”. “It’s a disappointing decision, even humiliating for the players”, considered, after the statement of the sanction, Jacques Cardoze, director of communication for OM on the set of “L’Equipe du Soir”, on the channel L’Equipe. We reserve the right not to recognize this judgment. Only a victory on the green carpet can calm the supporters. “
“We must remain in a disciplinary logic specific to our role. Since the start of the season, Lyon had not committed any other offenses, explained Sébastien Deneux. It was not up to the commission to sanction Lyon up to the failures of other Ligue 1 clubs. “
Expected proposals to improve safety
In 2017, a firecracker throw from a Metz supporter towards OL goalkeeper Anthony Lopes was first sanctioned with a withdrawal of two points, before being canceled a few months later by the committee of ‘appeal from the French Football Federation and transformed into a three-point suspended sentence. Wednesday evening, OL did not rule out “The right to appeal the decision. “
Two weeks ago, the scenario of the match stopped between Lyon and Marseille had sparked a general upheaval: from the Professional Football League to the government. The next day, meeting urgently, the disciplinary committee pronounced a precautionary measure for a closed-door match against OL, sanction served on 1is December against Reims. Two days later, a crisis meeting was convened between the interior and sports ministers and the football authorities (League, federation, clubs and referees) to determine “The means to put an end to the incidents for the remainder of the season”.
In mid-December, an interministerial meeting – with the Minister of the Interior, Gérald Darmanin, that of justice, Eric Dupont-Moretti, and that of sports, Roxana Maracineanu – should present a list of proposals supposed to improve security in the stadiums to football authorities as well as to the Prime Minister. The case law now seems clear: the responsibility of clubs during any violence by their supporters will lead to accounting consequences in the standings.