Lyon players 'very afraid' after being hit at Bastia - Jean-Michel Aulas
Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas has said three of his players were punched by hooligans and even attacked by stewards at Bastia in "incredible scenes" that led to his club's league game in Corsica on Sunday being abandoned.
Initially scheduled to start at 5 p.m. CEST, kickoff was delayed by 50 minutes following incidents during the warm-up when fans were involved in a verbal altercation with Memphis Depay before invading the pitch and exchanging blows with some Lyon players.
After being convinced there would be no more trouble, Lyon's players re-emerged from their dressing room and played a goalless 45 minutes before an altercation between Lyon goalkeeper Anthony Lopes and Bastia's head of security led to another pitch invasion.
The game was eventually abandoned, and after being blocked inside the stadium by fans, the Lyon squad's coach was able to leave under a hail of stones after riot police using tear gas had cleared their route.
Following the violence that had delayed Lyon's Europa League tie with Besiktas on Thursday, it was the second such incident the seven-time French champions had been involved in inside four days, and Aulas admitted it had taken its toll on Bruno Genesio's squad.
"The players have been badly affected. They were very afraid for their families on Thursday. And that was the case again in Bastia. I saw players who didn't want to play anymore, because they were afraid. We're going to have some work to do psychologically before Thursday," he said, referring to OL's Europa League second leg trip to Istanbul.
"I saw incredible scenes. Three of our players were hit. After talks and a commitment from the police commissioner there would be no more incidents, the decision was taken to start the game. There was a lot of reticence from the players and Bruno Genesio. I tried to convince them. The players were affected.
"The pictures of the second altercation show that the one who started it is the head of security, who had promised to contain incidents. Lopes was hit, [substitute goalkeeper Mathieu] Gorgelin too, and [forward Jean-Philippe] Mateta. You saw stewards hitting our players! We went back to the dressing room and there was no question of continuing to play! The public prosecutor of Bastia, who I had asked to come, took our complaints for assault and injuries.
"I saw some very shocking things in the corridor leading to the dressing rooms, but I would like to say in the defence of Bastia, Jean-Louis Leca, the goalkeeper, and the president [Pierre-Marie] Geronimi, for whom I have a lot of esteem, tried to defend our players. The head of security came again to say the game could restart, but this time no-one listened to him. It was the referee, Amaury Delerue, who took the decision [to abandon the match]."
The French Football League (LFP) put out a statement condemning "with the greatest firmness" the incidents, adding that its Disciplinary Commission will investigate when it sits on Thursday and hand out appropriate punishments.
Bastia's East Stand had just been reopened having been closed for five matches due to the use of flares in the league game against Marseille in December and racist insults aimed at Nice's Mario Balotelli during a Ligue 1 fixture in January.
The latter incident had also included a suspended one-point deduction, which could now be activated, tipping Bastia -- bottom of the table, three points from safety ahead of Sunday's game -- a little closer to relegation.
The club could also forfeit the game 3-0, and be forced to play their remaining two home games of the season -- against Rennes on April 29 and Lorient on May 13 -- behind closed doors or even at a neutral venue.
"The club is responsible for the security at matches it organises," Didier Quillot, the LFP's CEO, said. "The image of football has been tarnished, just when the league has become attractive again and we're trying to attract new investors. And it's not the first time there are problems at Bastia."
Ian is ESPN's French football correspondent. Twitter: @ian_holyman