French football watchdogs slap one match stadium ban on Saint-Etienne

By Paul Myers - RFI
OCT 26, 2021 LISTEN

French football's disciplinary watchdogs on Tuesday ordered Saint-Etienne to play their next Ligue 1 home match behind closed doors after supporters hurled a barrage of smoke bombs onto the pitch before the start of their game against Angers last Friday.

The tie at the Stade Geoffrey-Guichard kicked off an hour late as stewards picked up debris from the field and match officials waited for the smoke to clear. The game was eventually played in full and ended 2-2.

The Ligue de Football Professionnel - which runs the top two divisions in France - told Saint-Etienne's bosses that that their fans would not be allowed to travel to this Saturday's game at Metz and their own stadium would be closed for the Ligue 1 match on 7 November against Clermont. The LFP said it might hand out further punishments on the club next month.

French football is facing serious questions about security in and around stadiums and the unbridled delinquency of so-called fans.

Arenas throughout the country were closed during the 2020/21 season as the French government and health authorities attempted to stem the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

Supporters have been allowed back into grounds since the start of the new season. But the return has been pockmarked by bad behaviour.

Lens and Nice have been slapped with stadium bans following unrest at matches.

Lens entertained Strasbourg and Reims at an empty Stade Bollaert-Delelis following disturbances during the derby against Lille on 24 September.

The LFP told Nice to play their games against Bordeaux and Monaco without fans after a pitch invasion during the game against Marseille in August. The LFP also docked Nice a point for the unsavoury scenes at the game which was abandoned.

It will be replayed on Wednesday night at the Allianz Arena with Marseille facing trouble after fans set off flares and smoke bombs in the Vélodrome concourse just before Sunday night's clash against Ligue 1 pacesetters Paris Saint-Germain.

During the match, PSG players were pelted with objects as they attempted to take corner kicks. A fan even managed to get onto the pitch and thwart a Lionel Messi-led attack towards the end of the encounter.

Marseille were warned they would be docked a point if fans misbehaved again following disturbances during their game at Angers in September.

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