Fan violence at Nice mars French league boosted by Messi

National Sports

PARIS (AP)Boosted by the recent arrival of Lionel Messi at Paris Saint-Germain, the French league was attracting attention for the wrong reasons on Sunday.

The league match between home side Nice and Marseille was abandoned when Marseille refused to restart the game over safety concerns.

”The safety of our players wasn’t guaranteed,” Marseille president Pablo Longoria said.

The game had been interrupted with players leaving the field after home fans threw projectiles and invaded the pitch. Unverified photos on social media showed at least three players were injured.

When it was decided to restart play, with Nice 1-0 ahead, Marseille refused to return to the field. Nice warmed up and the match was meant to restart with a Marseille corner. No visiting players were present to take the corner, the referee blew his whistle and the match was abandoned.

If usual French league rules are applied, an automatic 3-0 victory will be awarded to Nice.

Nice supporters had already been warned against throwing objects by the stadium announcer when, with about 15 minutes remaining, Marseille midfielder Dimitri Payet was hit on the back by a bottle thrown from an area with Nice fans. Payet threw the bottle back into the crowd, prompting a significant number of Nice fans to rush the field.

Messi and his PSG teammates travel to Nice on March 6.

DROPPED POINTS

Angers and Clermont were the only teams other than PSG to have won both their opening matches but they dropped their first points of the season on Sunday.

Angers hadn’t conceded a goal before Sekou Mara scored for Bordeaux in the 10th minute. But Romain Thomas leveled shortly before halftime and the match finished 1-1.

Substitute Elbasan Rashani scored twice in the final 10 minutes to help promoted Clermont fight back from two goals down and snatch a 3-3 draw at Lyon.

PSG won 4-2 at Brest on Friday.

OTHER MATCHES

Strasbourg and Troyes both picked up their first points of the season as they played out a 1-1 draw.

Lorient had two players sent off late on in a 3-1 loss at Montpellier, which recorded its first win of the season.

Rennes also won its first match with a 1-0 victory over Nantes, while Metz and Reims drew 1-1.

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