Olympique Marseille’s US owner Frank McCourt has strongly condemned “villains” who attacked the club’s training ground on Saturday, comparing the violent protest to the deadly attack on the US Congress on January 6.
“What happened a few weeks ago in Washington DC and what happened yesterday (Saturday) in Marseille follows a comparable logic,” McCourt wrote in a statement on the club’s website on Sunday.
“Some sources provide an inferno of opinions, invectives and threats amplified by social media that create the conditions that lead to violence and chaos,” he said.
French prosecutors said 18 people remained in custody after the attack on several hundred supporters who caused extensive damage.
The hardcore Ultras, who demonstrated against the club management and the team’s poor results, gathered in front of Marseille’s training ground La Commanderie on Saturday afternoon and threw smoke bombs and firecrackers.
“A frenzy of unjustified violence endangers the lives of those present,” read a club statement.
“Theft was committed and vehicles were damaged. Five trees were burned down … several hundred thousand euros in damage was caused.”
Mediterranean City Prosecutor Dominique Laurens said investigations were “continuing all day (Sunday)” into the violence that led the club to postpone Ligue 1 Saturday against Rennes at their Velodrome stadium.
Police made 25 arrests on Saturday night. Seven police officers received minor injuries and three police cars were seriously injured.
McCourt said fans in Marseille “love their club”.
“It is therefore impossible for me to recognize the supporter status of these small groups of thugs.”
He promised that Marseille would “cooperate with all authorities to ensure that those found responsible for these horrific acts of violence are held accountable to the extent of the law”.
‘A wild horde’
Marseille president Jacques-Henri Eyraud told Canal Plus on Saturday night: “We are all surprised: staff, coaches and players. We did not expect a wild horde to appear and destroy everything.
“I think we avoided an even worse situation. It could have been a tragedy. Everyone is shocked, players and staff. These are not real supporters, they are hooligans, criminals, people who have no respect for anything.”
Marseille have won just one of their last nine matches in all competitions and disappear in seventh place in Ligue 1, 14 points behind leaders Lyon, albeit with two matches in hand.
On Friday, coach Andre Villas-Boas admitted that he expected to leave at the end of the season.
“The place needs to be cleared out … I am responsible for the results and right now they are terrible,” said the former Portuguese Porto, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur coach.