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France introduces tougher measures to combat crowd trouble

French football matches interrupted by crowd trouble will be immediately suspended under new measures approved by the country’s Sports, Interior and Justice ministries.

A number of matches in the top-tier Ligue 1 have been marred by crowd disturbances in recent months. In November, Olympique Lyonnais’ match against Olympique de Marseille was abandoned after a home fan threw a bottle at opposition player Dimitri Payet.

The incident at Lyon’s Groupama Stadium was the latest in a string of crowd disturbances this season. In October, AS Saint-Etienne was ordered to play a home match behind closed doors after fans let off smoke bombs and ran onto the pitch during a game against Angers, while in August, OGC Nice was hit with a partial stadium closure following unrest at the Allianz Riviera during the derby against Marseille.

A number of new measures were ratified yesterday (Thursday) in a bid to combat crowd trouble, with the sale and carrying of plastic bottles having been banned in direct response to the Lyon incident.

It has also been announced that clubs will need to install protective devices such as safety nets at their stadiums from next season to reduce the chances of pitch invasions or objects being thrown. Clubs’ video protection systems will also be assessed in a bid to raise them to the necessary standards.

The French government said in a statement that matches will be “systematically and definitely abandoned” if a referee or player is injured by an object thrown from the stands.

Individual stadium bans are also set to be dished out for fans who bring flares into venues.

Image: Yannick/CC BY-SA 2.0/Edited for size