French football is in shock and under strong political pressure on Monday the day after serious incidents in Marseille which led to the cancellation of the OM-Lyon match, the serious injury of Lyon coach Fabio Grosso and the opening of three investigations.
Monday evening, Marseille prosecutor Nicolas Bessone announced the opening of three investigations in total in connection with Sunday's incidents. The first concerns acts of “willful violence in a meeting with premeditation” against Lyon coach Fabio Grosso, punishable by ten years in prison.
The Italian technician was seriously injured in the face on Sunday evening when the bus carrying the OL players and staff was stoned on the road to the Vélodrome. According to the Marseille prosecutor, Grosso received a 30-day ITT (total incapacity for work).
An impressive photo of the OL coach's bloodied face appeared on the front page of the daily newspapers L'Equipe and La Provence on Monday, symbol of another nightmarish evening for Ligue 1. His assistant Raffaele Longo was also injured.
Likewise, at least one coach of Lyon supporters was also targeted - facts for which the Marseille prosecutor's office opened an investigation for intentional violence in meetings without ITT and damage in meetings - before the game was postponed by the Ligue de professional football (LFP) after the meeting of a crisis unit.
Other incidents also took place in the stands, in the parking lot where the 600 Lyon supporters authorized to come to Marseille were installed. They gave rise to the opening of a third investigation, for “provocation of racial hatred and racial insults”.
“Some of the Lyon supporters made Nazi salutes and monkey cries aimed at the Marseille supporters,” detailed prosecutor Nicolas Bessone, specifying that no one was arrested for these facts.
As of Monday morning, OL had strongly condemned “the unacceptable racist behavior of individuals in the park” and “requested the videos to identify the perpetrators”.
Three weeks after the interruption of the Ligue 1 Montpellier-Clermont match, caused by the throwing of a firecracker on the pitch, the serious incidents at the Vélodrome come at a particularly bad time for French football, which seems unable to find a solution to contain the brutality of a section of his fans.
The LFP is in fact currently engaged in delicate negotiations to allocate national and international rights to the L1 from the 2024-2025 season.
As Sunday's events took place outside the stadium, the clubs are theoretically not guilty, according to LFP regulations. But the authorities were quick to return the ball to the sports institutions' court.
The Minister of Sports, Amélie Oudéa-Castera, thus estimated on France 2 that “if it is established that there are supporters involved” in violence, “the clubs cannot lose interest in this”, advocating “ a global response” where “all bodies in the sports sector must be held accountable”.
The Minister of the Interior, Gérald Darmanin, for his part judged on BFMTV/RMC that these incidents were “unacceptable”, adding that they had given rise to “nine arrests”. According to the Marseille prosecutor, none of these arrests concerns the attack on the OL bus.
The Minister of the Interior also said that “500 police officers and gendarmes had been mobilized” to secure this match. For him, there was “no failure” on the part of the police and “it is up to the club to manage its supporters”.
Marseille's police chief, Frédérique Camilleri, had a different point of view on Sunday evening, indicating that the incidents were the work of a handful of "irresponsible unconscious people" and insisting on the "preparation" for the match with groups of Lyon and Marseille supporters “to reauthorize the arrival of the Lyonnais at the Vélodrome stadium”.
Despite political pressure, the LFP, through its general director Arnaud Rouger, insisted on specifying on RMC that the events had “taken place 500 meters from the stadium”.
“This is not our responsibility. However, as with every incident, we stand alongside the State and we fully support the statements of Gérald Darmanin who calls for greater justice towards the perpetrators of these particularly serious acts. he continued, calling for “strong sanctions”.
Fifa President Gianni Infantino also stepped up to the plate in a message posted on Instagram, calling on the “competent authorities” to “ensure that appropriate measures are taken”.