Marseille erupted in “violence” when their game against Rennes in France’s Ligue 1 on Saturday was postponed after hundreds of angry supporters broke into the club’s training ground and caused extensive damage in a protest.
The hardcore Ultras, who demonstrated against the club management and the team’s poor results, gathered in the afternoon in front of Marseille’s training ground La Commanderie and threw smoke bombs and firecrackers.
“Hundreds of ultras used violence and violence to enter the training ground, including the first team building,” the club said in a statement.
“A frenzy of unjust violence endangered the lives of those present. Thefts were committed and vehicles were damaged. Five trees were burned down … several hundred thousand euros in damage was caused.”
Local police in France’s Bouches-du-Rhône department said earlier that 25 arrests had been made and seven police officers injured after “300 OM supporters violently attacked police present to secure La Commanderie”.
Sports daily L’Equipe reported that Marseille’s Spanish defender Alvaro Gonzalez was hit on the back by a projectile as he went to confront the supporters.
“We are all amazed: staff, coaching staff and players. We did not expect a wild horde to appear and destroy everything,” Marseille president Jacques-Henri Eyraud told Canal Plus.
“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.”
The French league responded to the events by postponing Marseille’s home game against Rennes, scheduled for Saturday night, “until a later date”, despite going behind closed doors due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The French league postponed Marseille’s home game against Rennes just three hours before the start on Saturday after angry Marseille fans marched to the club’s training complex to protest poor results pic.twitter.com/BlIDdVANX7
– Football Daily (@footballdaily) January 30, 2021
Banners that attack the club’s leadership
Marseille were second in Ligue 1 when last season ended early due to the pandemic. However, they have lost their last three league matches and have gone 14 points behind the leader Lyon, albeit with two matches in hand.
A 2-1 victory for Lens at Montpellier on Saturday saw Marseille in seventh place.
They have only won one of their last nine matches in all competitions and will visit Lens in the middle of the week before they will host tough enemies Paris Saint-Germain next weekend.
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.
For several weeks, supporters have been organizing protests before home matches, all of which are played behind closed doors.
On Saturday, an increasing number of banners attacking the club management, including Eyraud, were hung around the city on motorway bridges, roundabouts and even the Corniche overlooking the Mediterranean.
“Follow AVB, get out of here”, “Parisians, get out of here”, “Give us back IF”, read some of them.
Eyraud, who was born in Paris, was a frequent target after angering fans during a conference on management when he talked about the “danger” of having too many Marseille residents or club supporters working at the club.
“JHE: No Marseille fans on OM? Get out of here,” said a banner rolled out above a highway, and “JHE, Marseille throws you out,” said another at the Prado roundabout, a few meters from the Stade Velodrome.