French police have detained nine people and are searching for other suspects after a violent attack on buses carrying the Lyon football team and fans left coach Fabio Grosso with a head injury and forced the postponement of its game at Marseille, the interior minister said Monday.
Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said on BFM television that five police officers were also injured in the attack Sunday night, which drew nationwide attention amid concerns about football violence.
“Shame and Disgust,” was the headline on l’Equipe newspaper’s front page, with a picture of Grosso’s bloodied face.
However, it’s unlikely the attack will lead to disciplinary sanctions against the nine-time French champion.
Since it took place outside the Velodrome stadium, responsibility lies with public authorities and not with the club. The case has been taken over by a French league committee in charge of scheduling competitions, and not by the discipline commission.
The team bus was hit on the way to the Stade Velodrome, shattering some windows. Grosso was injured by falling shards of glass and needed medical treatment with his face bleeding heavily. Lyon assistant coach Raffaele Longo was also injured. Buses carrying Lyon fans were also attacked.
Grosso suffered a deep cut above his left eye that required stitches and had a large bandage wrapped around his head.
The attack was been widely commented in media outside France and comes at a very bad time for the French league amid negotiations for the sale of its TV rights abroad. Earlier this month, the auction for the domestic broadcast rights for the 2024-2029 period was cancelled after the league failed to attract bids meeting the minimum price set.
FIFA president Gianni Infantino said on Instagram that “there is absolutely no place for violence in soccer, on or off the pitch” and called on “the competent authorities to ensure that the appropriate measures are taken.”
“Without exception, in soccer, all players, coaches and fans must be safe to enjoy our sport,” Infantino said. He added a picture of Grosso with a bandage on his face, with the message ”Forza Fabio.”
Sports Minister Amelia Oudea-Castera called for a ‘’global response’‘ and said the French league, the teams and fan groups should all take responsibility. Speaking Monday on France-2 television, she called for tougher restrictions on troublemakers.
She and Darmanin defended police protection for the Lyon team even though the measures weren’t enough to prevent the attack.
Marseille president Pablo Longoria said the attack was unacceptable and the club wished Grosso a speedy recovery.
“Because of a handful of thoughtless people, tonight’s party was spoiled and 65,000 fans were deprived of attending a football match,” the club said.
The atmosphere has long been tense between the teams, notably since fans from Marseille and Lyon fought in a violent brawl 10 years ago that left 17 injured.
Both clubs have been under pressure lately. Marseille is still showing poor form with one win and three losses in its last four league games, and Lyon is the only team still winless in the league.
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