French players union hits out at Coupe de France sanctions on Paris FC and Lyon

·3-min read

The football players’ union UNFP on Wednesday laid bare the problems facing the sport after the French Football Federation (FFF) threw Paris FC and Lyon out of the Coupe de France following fan violence during their last-64 tie at the Stade Charlety on 17 December.

The union - which has implored league organisers to make sure players have enough recovery time between matches - issued a sarcastic statement which not only condemned the fans but highlighted the concerns of players since the FFF's tough line on Monday.

“Dear pseudo-supporters, small-time rioters, we are sorry that you have misunderstood our message: when the UNFP pleaded for a reduction in the calendar, we did not think that you would go so far as to force the FFF disciplinary committee to deprive Paris FC and Olympique Lyonnais of a match, or even two for the winner,” it said.

The FFF was under pressure to crack down to respond to the crowd disturbances that have infested French football since restrictions were lifted on the number of spectators into stadiums.

Defiance

The unruliness at Stade Charlety came less than 24 hours after three government ministers had met football chiefs to clarify ways to deal with the misbehaviour at grounds throughout the country.

“Thanks to your action, thanks to this gratuitous violence which adds to all those experienced since the beginning of the season, you have succeeded where we failed," added the UNFP statement.

"Even if the reduction of the calendar only concerns two clubs today: get to work, the others are waiting!”

From Monday - in an attempt to curb the spread of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus - Emmanuel Macron’s government has said a maximum of 5,000 spectators will be allowed at matches.

Rules

That new bar will affect the gates at the last-32 Coupe de France ties set to be played from Sunday until Tuesday.

Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 are set to resume on 7 January after the winter break.

The UNFP added: “We will continue to use arguments other than yours, which, in the end, also punish the players, whose supporters you are supposed to be.

“They are the ones deprived of a prestigious competition. They suffer for your foolish actions, just like the real fans, with whom we will never associate you.

“Because of you, two clubs, from the manager to the secretary, from the player and the coach to the medical staff, have been heavily sanctioned.”

After the FFF’s ruling, Lyon - which was also fined 52,000 euros and told its fans were banned from away matches for the rest of the season - said it accepted the punishments.

Paris FC says it is considering whether to appeal against the decision to ban them from playing their next five home matches at the Stade Charlety.

Nice, who were drawn to face either Paris FC or Lyon, will advance to the last-16 of a competition they last won in 1997.

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