Marseille players refuse to return to pitch after clashing with Nice fans

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Home supporters threw missiles at corner takers • Match was set to restart but O’M did not come back out

Marseille players did not return for the restart of their Ligue 1 match with Nice after ugly clashes with home fans, forcing the referee to abandon the game.

The game was originally suspended in the 75th minute when Marseille players and Nice fans had to be separated after bottles were thrown between the two during their league match. An on-pitch melee ensued and the game had to be delayed by the match officials.

The former West Ham man Dimitri Payet was hit on the back of the head by a bottle launched from the stands, which the Marseille forward threw back towards Nice fans, resulting in players and supporters clashing on the pitch. Nice players and stewards tried to intervene but more projectiles were thrown and the referee made the decision to take the teams off the pitch.

A section of the home fans had been pelting the visiting Marseille players with bottles throughout the match, resulting in the stadium announcer telling the crowd to refrain from throwing items at players.

The Marseille head coach Jorge Sampaoli was enraged by the situation and had to be held back by his backroom staff, while wanting to confront Nice officials.

Both teams retreated to the tunnel and play was held up for over an hour before the Nice president Jean-Pierre Rivère appealed to his supporters over the sound system for calm and the home players returned to the pitch to warm up. However, when the match was planned to restart – 90 minutes after the original delay – only the Nice players were on the pitch, forcing to the referee to blow for full-time.

The Marseille President Pablo Longoria said: “We need to set precedents for French football. The referee was with us, he confirmed that to us, that safety was not assured. His decision was to abandon the match, but the LFP decided to restart the match. It is not acceptable for us.”

Nice were leading 1-0 at the time, thanks to a Kasper Dolberg goal, when the incident happened in the 75th minute.

League rules say if a team fails to fulfil a fixture, then the opposition will be awarded a 3-0 win but Marseille would be likely to appeal such a decision.

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