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Crowd invades pitch after they threw a bottle to Payet

FOOTBALL By Reuters | August 23rd 2021
August 22, 2021 OGC Nice coach Christophe Galtier as the game is interrupted REUTERS

The Ligue 1 clash between Nice and Olympique Marseille was abandoned in the 75th minute on Sunday after serious crowd trouble as Marseille players clashed with home fans who pelted them with missiles and stormed onto the pitch.

Nice supporters threw water bottles as Marseille were about to take a corner and, after visiting forward Dimitri Payet hurled one back at them, a full scale brawl ensued when some of the fans rushed onto the field.

Both teams retreated to the tunnel and play was held up for 90 minutes before referee Benoit Bastien declared the match abandoned, with Nice players returning to the pitch several minutes earlier as Marseille players refused to join them.

Nice president Jean-Pierre Rivere appealed to the Nice supporters for calm over the sound system during the delay but angry Marseille players and staff refused to carry on.

Marseille president Pablo Longoria said the club had decided not to continue with the match despite a decision by the soccer authorities that play should resume.

"The League decided that the match should continue but we decided not to because the safety of our players was not guaranteed," he told a news conference.

"This is the second time it's happened. We have already experienced this in Montpellier where we decided to continue after the decision to carry on was made.

"What happened today is unacceptable. We must make it a precedent for French football and that's why we decided to return to Marseille."

Revere partially blamed Payet and his team mate Alvaro Gonzales for the chaos after they retaliated by hurling bottles back at Nice fans and accused Marseille staff of hitting some of the home players.

"It's disappointing that the game ended like this," he said.

"Everyone saw what happened. We can't deny that water bottles were thrown because we could all see it. What ignited the clashes was the reaction of two Marseille players who retaliated.

"Afterwards, it is deplorable that the Marseille security staff intervened on the ground and hit our players."

August 22, 2021 Olympique de Marseille's Dimitri Payet reacts as the game is interrupted REUTERS

Marseille's 3-2 win at Montpellier in the opening round was held up for 15 minutes in the 89th minute after home fans hurled water bottles at the visiting players and it only resumed after the organisers warned the crowd it could be abandoned.

French daily L'Equipe reported that Marseille's Payet, Matteo Guendouzi and Luan Peres were injured in scuffles with the Nice crowd on Sunday and riot police were deployed in front of the tier packed with the home ultras.

Nice were 1-0 up when the match was interrupted after Swedish striker Kasper Dolberg fired them ahead in the 49th minute with Marseille missing a string of first-half chances.

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