Nice-Marseille paused over homophobic banners

Referees in France have been instructed to stop matches if homophobic banners are displayed, or homophobic chanting is heard, during the 2019-20 season.

A delay of around five minutes followed before the Ligue 1 match between Nice and Marseille got back under way.   -  Getty Images

The Ligue 1 match between Nice and Marseille on Wednesday was paused after homophobic banners were displayed.

Two signs including homophobic language were seen in the crowd at Allianz Riviera, leading referee Clement Turpin to stop the game.

A delay of around five minutes followed before the match got back under way, with Nice player Wylan Cyprien critical of the interruption.

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"We can't stop a game every time that stupid people act like that," he said to Canal+. "I am against every discrimination, homophobia or racism.

"But we can't stop games for that. It's ridiculous."

Referees in France have been instructed to stop matches if homophobic banners are displayed, or homophobic chanting is heard, during the 2019-20 season.

The Ligue 2 match between Nancy and Le Mans on August 16 was the first to be temporarily suspended, while a referee threatened to do the same during the meeting of Monaco and Nimes in the top flight on Sunday.

The controversy at Nice came in the week British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe completed his long-awaited takeover.

Ratcliffe is the president of petrochemicals company INEOS, which this year bought the cycling outfit formerly known as Team Sky.

Lees-Melou and Mandanda condemn homophobic banners

Nice midfielder Pierre Lees-Melou and Marseille captain Steve Mandanda condemned the homophobic banners that forced Wednesday's Ligue 1 clash to be halted.

Marseille emerged 2-1 winners away to Nice midweek, but not before a controversial delay in play at Allianz Riviera.

Referee Clement Turpin decided to stop the game after two signs including homophobic language were seen in the crowd – the delay lasting around five minutes.

"We will not hide behind the interruption of the match," Lees-Melou said. "But it hurt us, we were in a strong time. 

"Was this decision justified? We are all against discrimination. We will not be able to change everything overnight.

"I heard such songs on the grounds. Now, if you have to police every game, it will be complicated."

Goalkeeper Mandanda added: "I totally understand the referees. It must be stopped.

"The stadium is supposed to be a festive and fun place. As for us, the players, this kind of interruption is always complicated. It is always difficult to return quickly then in the game."

It was Marseille's first victory of the season following a draw and loss under new head coach Andre Villas-Boas, while the result ended Nice's perfect start to the campaign.

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