PARIS (AP) – Professional football matches in France will end immediately if a player or referee is injured by a shell thrown from the stands, government officials said Thursday.
The move, announced by the ministries of sport, interior and justice, follows a series of violent incidents in stadiums this season of the French league. It was also agreed that the sale and carrying of plastic bottles in stadiums will be banned by July next year.
French authorities decided to take urgent action after the match between Lyon and Marseille was canceled in November. During the game, a spectator threw a water bottle at Dimitri Payet, and the Marseille player was hit on the head.
Government officials also said that an assessment of video surveillance systems in stadiums will also be carried out “with the aim of gradually increasing these systems to the highest quality standards.” In addition, all professional clubs will be required to install protective devices such as safety nets to prevent intrusions and projectiles in the next season.
French authorities have said they will also tighten measures to ban the use of stadiums by fans. In the long term, French authorities have said they will consider introducing a new fine, which will be used to punish fans trying to smuggle flares into stadiums.
Violent incidents have darkened domestic football since the start of the season, many involving Marseille.
In August, the match between Nice and Marseille was interrupted after fans threw shells and ran out onto the pitch. In that game, Payet also hit a bottle and threw it at the supporters. Players and employees were also involved in the fight. Subsequently, Nice was deducted two points with a one point disqualification.
Earlier this season, Montpellier fans threw shells at Marseille players and Valentin Ronger cut his lip. In September, Angers and visiting fans from Marseille ran onto the field and began to fight.
Marseille, owned by American businessman Frank McCourt, also faced a fan mutiny in January when several hundred people stormed the club’s training facility hours before a league game.
Other clubs have suffered from public issues this season.
In September, fans ran onto the pitch at Lance in a northern derby with Lille, and a fight broke out in the stands. During the game between Paris Saint-Germain and Lyon, the teenager was injured by a thrown seat.
In October, the match between Saint-Etienne and Angers was postponed by about an hour as fans ran out onto the pitch and threw flares on the playing surface before the match began.
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