• Mon. Oct 18th, 2021

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Lens Bans Fans Up To 18 Months For Pitch Invasion

ByRoborto Sykes

Sep 25, 2021

Lens on Friday suspended a number of identified fans for up to 18 months after the field invasion during their home derby with Lille.

The club’s general manager, Arnaud Pouille, told a press conference that the club had also imposed suspended sentences of up to 36 months.

“In some cases, these bans will be accompanied by a complaint to the police if violent behavior is suspected,” the club said.

Meanwhile, two groups of Angers ‘ultras’ claimed they had been victimized when clashes broke out with visiting Marseille fans during a Ligue 1 match on Wednesday. They also denied throwing an explosive device at the away supporters.

One group, the Kop de la Butte, said in a statement that they had defended themselves and “we admit it without shame”.

They promised to find a way for their members to participate after the French League ordered one of the stands at the Stade Raymond Kopa to be closed for the home game with Metz on October 3.

The violent incidents are part of a string of Ligue 1 matches as fans have returned to the stadiums this season.

Also on Wednesday, stones were thrown at a bus taking Bordeaux fans to their match in Montpellier, leaving 16 minor injuries.

Earlier in the season, Nice had docked one point after halting their match against Mediterranean rivals Marseille on August 22.

In Stade Bollaert-Delelis on Saturday, riot police intervened as Lens supporters stormed onto the pitch at half time to confront the Lille fans, as both sets of fans threw chairs at each other over a dividing wall.

Pouille said the sanctions would apply to “all identified individuals who entered the field”.

So far, 17 supporters have been identified, of the more than a hundred who swarmed from the Marek grandstand along the northern sidelines.

Lens, who defeated the Ligue 1 defending champion 1-0, was ordered to play two home games pending a disciplinary hearing.

French Sports Minister Roxana Maracineanu welcomed “the decision of the President of Lens”.

“If we need to tighten administrative or judicial procedures, we will,” she told AFP.

Pouille also condemned the behavior of Lille fans in the area to visiting fans where “80 chairs were torn, broken” and the “toilets destroyed”.

He lamented “images we had rarely seen”, believing that “these facts are more about hooliganism than fanism”.

“The fans will accept the condemnation of violence,” said Pouille. “The hardest thing is getting them to understand that they can’t invade the field in response to what they see. The field is sacred.”

The clashes against Lille resulted in six minor injuries and two arrests.

One of them, a 26-year-old Lille supporter, appeared in court on Monday for “violence against a person in public authority” with a “weapon of choice”, namely “a chair that was torn off”.

At the same time, “several investigations have been launched in response to the events,” including one “for inciting hatred and displaying racist or xenophobic signs,” the prosecutor’s office in nearby Bethune said in a statement to AFP on Wednesday.

cor-nb/pb/lp

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