The Marseille physio who appeared to punch a Nice fan during the chaotic scenes that broke out during their Ligue 1 match could reportedly be banned from football for years.
The game between the fierce rivals was abandoned on Sunday night after Nice fans invaded the pitch after 75 minutes with their team leading 1-0 and angrily confronted opposing player Dimitri Payet, who had thrown a bottle initially aimed at him back into the crowd.
The pitch invasion sparked violent brawls between both sets of players, fans and staff members.
A Marseille physio punched a Nice fan in the chest during the Ligue 1 brawl on Sunday night
Crazy scenes in Ligue 1 😱
Dimitri Payet was hit by a missile thrown from the crowd, and when he threw it back it all kicked off…
The match was suspended as chaos descended on the pitch, with the managers even getting involved! pic.twitter.com/Skk7VoLoIa
— 🇮🇹 Watch Serie A on BT Sport Football 🇮🇹 (@btsportfootball) August 22, 2021
During the melee, Marseille physio Pablo Fernandez could be seen punching a Nice fan, who is still in hospital, in the chest, according to Spanish newspaper Marca.
The member of Marseille’s backroom staff now faces ‘severe disciplinary sanction’ for his actions, according to reports from The Sun.
Dressed in a black T-shirt, shorts and trainers with an orange bib, the physio’s thump sent the supporter sprawling to the ground. He then backed away to avoid retaliation from the home fans.
After the mass brawl, the referee led both teams off to the safety of the dressing room. Eighty minutes after the game was suspended, Nice said they wanted to restart.
‘The decision was taken by the authorities to resume the match, but Marseille do not want to,’ Nice president Jean-Pierre Rivere told broadcaster Prime Video.
An irate Marseille boss Jorge Sampaoli (centre) confronted opposition players in the chaos
Dimitri Payet (second from left) was hit by a bottle thrown from an area with Nice supporters
Marseille refused with club officials claiming their players’ safety could not be guaranteed.
‘Our players were attacked,’ said Marseille president Pablo Longoria.
‘The league wanted the match to restart. We decided for the safety of our players, who were attacked during the pitch invasion, not to resume because the safety of our players was not guaranteed.
‘The referee was with us, he confirmed to (Marseille coach) Jorge Sampaoli and me that safety was not guaranteed and decided to stop the game.’
French prosecutors have opened an investigation into the ugly brawl and France’s Ligue de Football Professionnel (LFP) have already handed out one punishment.
Luan Peres (left) and Dimitri Payet (right) were left injured during the melee with Nice fans
A statement from the prosecutor’s office on Monday morning said: ‘An investigation is underway, but no one has been taken into custody at this stage.’
Nice’s south stand will be closed for the next four home games and Les Aiglons could face a points reduction, with Marseille facing the same sentence for refusing to play out the rest of the match, according to Marca.
The game will have to be replayed, possibly behind closed doors.
The French league have said that the two Ligue 1 clubs will be summoned for a disciplinary hearing on Wednesday, August 25.
Marseille’s feisty tie against Nice was abandoned at the weekend after an ugly on-pitch brawl
During the on-pitch scuffles, an irate Marseille manager Jorge Sampaoli had to be restrained by his own staff and players as he confronted opposition stars before being led down the tunnel.
French daily L’Equipe reported that visiting players Payet, Matteo Guendouzi and Luan Peres were injured in scuffles with the crowd and riot police were deployed in front of the tier packed with Nice fans.
There were unverified photos circulating on social media of Payet with blood and scratches on his back, while more photos appeared to show team-mates Matteo Guendouzi and Luan Peres with strangle marks on their necks.