MARSEILLE, France (AP) — Lyon coach Fabio Grosso suffered a head injury as the team bus came under attack from fans throwing projectiles, forcing the postponement of the French league soccer game at Marseille on Sunday.
The team bus was hit on the way to Stade Velodrome, shattering some windows. Grosso was injured by falling shards of glass and needed medical treatment with his face bleeding heavily. Lyon assistant coach Raffaele Longo was also injured.
Grosso suffered a deep cut above his left eye that required stitches and a large bandage wrapped around his head.
“Our team (had) decided they would play,” Lyon president John Textor told Amazon Prime Video. “I’m obviously proud of the captain, proud of the players, for wanting to do that.”
Lyon changed its mind when more details about Grosso’s condition emerged.
“It was emotional. We have a coach who’s got blood coming out of his head, he’s got pieces of glass stuck in his head,” Textor said. “I couldn’t have a conversation with him. It looked like he had a concussion. At that point, our team was mixed. They said, you know, it’s not an emotional, physical game. It’s a tactical game, and this is not the way football should be played. As the night went on, I think our team supported the decision of the referee.”
A few minutes before the scheduled kickoff time at 1945 GMT, a message on the giant screen at Stade Velodrome said: “Dear supporters, the game will not be played tonight.”
A French league commission will meet to decide what to do with the fixture.
“Lyon didn’t want the game to be played,” referee Francois Letexier told a news conference. “We also applied the protocol, which states that the game shouldn’t be played when a party is injured and his participation is compromised because of this physical assault.”
Ten years ago, fans from Marseille and Lyon fought in a violent brawl after meeting each other by chance at a service station forecourt after traveling to and from their respective games. The bloody clash left 17 injured, and the atmosphere has been tense ever since when they play each other.
Marseille president Pablo Longoria said Sunday's attack was unacceptable.
“What happened to Lyon coach Fabio Grosso must be prevented. It’s completely unacceptable,” Longoria told Amazon Prime Video. “I’m angry. I’m really upset by the current situation. It shouldn’t happen in football or in society.”
Coaches carrying Lyon fans were also attacked. The police arrested seven people suspected of being involved in Sunday's incidents but did not give details.
Grosso scored the winning penalty kick for Italy in the shootout victory over France in the 2006 World Cup final.
Both clubs have been under pressure lately.
Despite replacing Marcelino with Gennaro Gattuso as coach in September, Marseille is still showing poor form with one win and three losses in its last four league games.
Gattuso went to check on his former Italy teammate in the locker room.
Lyon is the only team still winless in the league. Replacing Laurent Blanc with Grosso as coach in September hasn’t paid off for Lyon, which sits in last place.
AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer