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French league chief warns of deaths if fan violence at matches continues

French league chief warns football matches in the country will kill if fan violence continues… as he orders clubs to ‘take criminals out of stadiums’ in candid interview after ‘disastrous’ season

  • Vincent Labrune has issued a sharp warning to French professional clubs
  • French football was ravaged by shocking scenes in the top division last season
  • Saint-Etienne fans stormed the field and threw flares after being relegated
  • France international Dimitri Payet was hit by a bottle from the audience

Vincent Labrune, head of the French football league, has warned that if the escalating fan violence at matches continues, there will be deaths in matches.

In a candid and vehement interview with L’Equipe, Labrune said the season had been “disastrous on and off the pitch” in France’s top divisions after a series of shocking incidents.

The campaign was riddled with disturbing scenes, crowd issues and major fan issues, including in Ligue 1 matches.

French league chief Vincent Labrune has strongly warned clubs about fan violence

French league chief Vincent Labrune has strongly warned clubs about fan violence

Furious Saint-Etienne supporters stormed the pitch, threw smoke bombs and caused police to raid after they saw their team relegated from Ligue 1 after their penalty defeat to Auxerre in May, sparking an undercurrent of disorder that has lingered throughout the season had been exposed.

Labrune told L’Equipe that it was a ‘miracle’ that no one was killed in the incident. “As president, I don’t want to know about a death in a stadium,” he said.

“We want to be the Development League, not the War League in the stadiums. I appeal to all of you, to your responsibility. You have to be brave and put these criminals where they belong, not in stadiums.”

There were shocking scenes in May as Saint-Etienne fans stormed the pitch after being relegated

There were shocking scenes in May as Saint-Etienne fans stormed the pitch after being relegated

During the chaotic scenes, supporters were seen wearing masks and brandishing fireworks

During the chaotic scenes, supporters were seen wearing masks and brandishing fireworks

Earlier in the campaign, Lyon’s match against Marseille was halted after former West Ham star Dimitri Payet was hit by a bottle that was thrown from the stands.

Lyon was awarded a point and had to play the rescheduled match behind closed doors, while a man was also arrested and given a six-month jail term alongside a ban on matches.

Payet had previously been attacked on the pitch in Nice in August, and the derby between Lille and Lens was held up for 30 minutes as riot police handled a clash between sections of fans on the pitch.

“We had a disastrous season on and off the field,” said Labrune. ‘We have to switch very strongly.

Dimitri Payet was hit by a bottle thrown from the crowd during a match between Lyon and Marseille

Dimitri Payet was hit by a bottle thrown from the crowd during a match between Lyon and Marseille

“At the League we are going to take our responsibility, the clubs have to take theirs and realize that they have to help us, as does the government.

“It bothers me when I hear the ANS say that there are good and bad supporters, good and bad ultras. No, there are supporters and ultras. I really like the positive zeal of the ultras, but today there are criminals in our enclosures. We have to get them out of the stadiums.”

Football in France has come under scrutiny in recent weeks in the wake of the chaos that unfolded ahead of the Champions League final between Liverpool and Real Madrid at the Stade de France in Paris.

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