Sevilla has lodged an appeal with French authorities over a ban on its supporters attending Tuesday’s Champions League game at Lens, which has been imposed after a fan was killed ahead of a Ligue 1 game earlier this month, the La Liga club said on Monday.
On December 2, a Nantes supporter died in a stabbing incident before its match at Nice. In response, the Interior Ministry on Friday announced a ban on away fans for several league and cup games at the weekend.
This has now been extended to include Sevilla supporters and the Spanish club were informed of the decision on Monday.
France’s Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin announced the plan to bar Sevilla fans in an interview with media outlet Brut on Sunday and an order from the Pas-de-Calais authorities confirmed the ban for its final Group B game.
“We have lodged an urgent appeal together with the Association Nationale des Supporters against the administrative decision to ban all of our fans from several areas and zones including in Lens and Arras, as well as against the French Ministry of the Interior’s plan to ban flights,” Sevilla said in a statement.
“We are aware of the difficulty in changing the policy of the French administration but we will use all legal and diplomatic means available to try to get our fans to the game against Lens.”
Before the official confirmation, Sevilla said it was engaging with the Spanish government to stop the ban, especially as many fans had booked flights and made travel arrangements.
“Quite simply it just does not make sense to ban 300 fans from going to help their team. Dropping this bombshell at late notice is unacceptable,” Sevilla president Jose Castro told the media on arrival at Lille airport on Monday.
“There was no official word of warning and it is an absolute farce and a breach of the rights of Spanish and European citizens.”
Speaking at a news conference, Lens manager Franck Haise also spoke out against the ban.
“I regret the decision, especially given how late the information came,” Haise said. “How are we going to manage the Olympic Games if we can’t welcome 300 Sevilla fans on French soil? There is a big problem.”
Neither Lens nor Sevilla can reach the Champions League knockout stage but they are battling to finish third and claim a playoff spot in the Europa League, a competition Sevilla won last season for a record-extending seventh time.
Lens has five points, three ahead of Sevilla, and a draw would therefore be enough for the French club.
A win for Sevilla would however see it finish third on the head-to-head tiebreaker after a 1-1 draw with Lens in Spain.
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