Paris FC vs. Lyon Coupe de France match abandoned in latest incident of persistent fan unrest in French game

Paris FC and Olympique Lyonnais’ Coupe de France round of 64 clash was abandoned on Friday due to crowd trouble as French soccer continues to struggle with recurring ugly scenes this season despite recent new government measures.

Spectators present at Stade Charlety were asked to leave the venue at half-time with the game level at 1-1 after fans clashed and flares were thrown. The incident comes one month after Dimitri Payet was hit by a thrown bottle of water in Lyon.

Here’s everything you need to know about the latest incident, and the state of fan unrest at French football in general.

Coupe de France the venue for the latest incident

All of this took place in Paris on Friday evening on the second day of Coupe de France round of 64 action which is one of the largest and most diverse domestic cup competitions in European soccer with 32 different ties spread across four groups between Thursday to Sunday which also includes team from overseas communities visiting mainland France.

Stade Charlety is a bowl-like venue which holds just under 20,000 people and is awkward to police due to the running track around the field and the relatively open and unsegregated layout on the stands which contributed towards the clashes.

Lyon fans at the center of incidents for a second time

Lyon find themselves involved in fan unrest once again once again and both PFC president Pierre Ferracci and OL counterpart Jean-Michel Aulas recognized that visiting support were involved in Friday’s shameful latest instalment — albeit to differing degrees.

“This was supposed to be a great celebration for us,” said an emotional Ferracci. “However, there was a group of brutes. Aulas must calm his fanatics down. We must stop inventing things. Any sanctions must be exemplary. I heard things in the corridors which defy belief. We know the incidents started in their end. I will not stand for a rematch. These incidents always involve the same clubs.

“These are not fans. I told Aulas: ‘You must clean house, or you will bring French soccer down with you.’ It is in Aulas’ interest to weigh up the pros and cons as he has a group of fanatics who should be nowhere near a soccer field. He is clever enough to know his club has problems and that French soccer will continue to have problems if it stays this way.”

“Responsibility is shared,” replied Aulas. “This is a societal problem. Many elements show me that we have a responsibility and that we must get our house in order. However, the first flares were thrown at our fans and therefore not by them. What followed was a rebellion. We also saw hundreds of people on the field who were not Lyonnais.”

Despite Aulas’ somewhat equivocal words, Lyon has already moved to ban their fans from future away matches until a more permanent solution can be found.

What exactly happened this time?

As with unsavory scenes from earlier this term in Nice and Lens, there were clashes between individuals which spilled over from the stands onto the field. There were also flares thrown with minimal security separating home and neutral spectators from those focused on the trouble.

While Aulas claimed that Lyon fans were provoked by Paris Saint-Germain troublemakers who had infiltrated Stade Charlety, Ferracci was less than impressed and slammed his OL counterpart for fabricating the story to protect Les Gones’ image.

“Aulas told me that a PSG group named Panda attacked the Lyon fans,” added the PFC supremo. “That is what he told the security chief in the corridors and dressing room — inventing various stories! Violence occurred right in front of me. They are uncontrolled when left unpoliced.”


Unfortunately, it appears that security was once again insufficient and Ferracci admitted as much when he drew parallels between this and a 2019 incident involving RC Lens in Ligue 2: “We were able to handle the Lens fans in 2019,” the PFC president added. “We do not need to receive any lessons. We thought that there was enough security.

Previous unrest in French football this season

The scenes between Paris FC and Lyon are the latest in a growing number of ugly scenes which have cast French soccer’s image in a poor light. OGC Nice vs. Marseille was the first major instance early in the season which was then followed by Lens vs. Lille OSC and OL vs. OM just last month.

Montpellier HSC, Angers SCO, OM and AS Saint-Etienne have also seen incidents happen in home games which has resulted in fan bans while Nice and Lyon have both been docked a point for major incidents during their clashes with Marseille.

What happens now?

Lyon being kicked out of the Coupe de France and Paris FC advancing to the next round by default is a very real possibility. If the French Football Federation (FFF) follows the Professional Football League’s (LFP) lead, then the match might still be replayed at a neutral venue behind closed doors — the Coupe de France is overseen by the FFF while Ligue 1 is the LFP’s domain.

“It is anger, we were very happy, this was a celebration for us,” said Ferracci. “When Lyon and Marseille insult each other, it is not normal for other clubs to be penalized. Everyone needs to take responsibility.”

“We will take extremely harsh measures against everyone who is going to be identified,” added Aulas. “We are in the process of filing a lawsuit to show that our desire is to punish those who deserve to be punished but also to find out who is responsible for what happened.

“We need to analyze and find those responsible. We will sanction them, but we cannot shoulder all the responsibility. We must analyze it all. For me, I do not think that we are responsible for the incidents, but they have generated things that we should never see in a football stadium.”

The French game’s issues this season forced the government to announce just days ago that games will be abandoned if players or officials are injured by projectiles while matches have a maximum of 30 minutes to be continued or abandoned after an incident.

There were also pledges to strictly ban violent supporters and eradicate plastic bottles from in and around French stadiums by the summer of 2022. However, those moves may already be deemed insufficient and not proactive enough.

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