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Ligue 1 Drops Hammer On Nice And Marseille After Mass Brawl Forces Match Abandonment

PARIS - Nice and Marseille have been summoned to a disciplinary hearing on Wednesday after their Ligue 1 match on Sunday had to be abandoned due to crowd trouble, said the French professional league (LFP).

The match at Nice's Allianz Riviera was abandoned in the 75th minute on Sunday after Marseille players clashed with home fans who pelted them with missiles and stormed onto the pitch.

Marseille midfielder Dimitri Payet was struck by a bottle thrown by Nice supporters as he was about to take a corner. After he hurled the bottle back at them, a full-scale brawl ensued when some of the fans rushed onto the field.

"Those fans should clearly never have been allowed to get onto the pitch," French Sports Minister Roxana Mărăcineanu told BFM TV, adding that the trouble was all the more regrettable given how sports venues had been empty for several months due to COVID-19 health protocols. "These incidents are an insult for sport and football."

The trouble was also condemned by Christian Estrosi, the mayor for the city of Nice.

"This violence is unacceptable. Sanctions must be taken by the French football league once they have found out who was responsible," said Estrosi.

A judicial probe is underway into Sunday's trouble, added local French media reports. The clashes marred the image of France's Ligue 1 just as the league was hoping to win more viewers across the world following the arrival of Argentine soccer star Lionel Messi at Paris St Germain.

Players from both Nice and Marseille retreated to the tunnel and play was held up for 90 minutes before referee Benoît Bastien declared the match abandoned. Nice players had returned to the pitch shortly before the match was called off but Marseille's line-up refused to join them.

Nice president Jean-Pierre Rivère had appealed for calm over the stadium's public address system during the delay but angry Marseille players and staff refused to carry on. Marseille president Pablo Longoria said the club had decided not to continue with the match despite a decision by the soccer authorities that play should resume.

Revere partially blamed Payet and his teammate Álvaro González for the chaos after they retaliated by hurling bottles back at Nice fans and accused Marseille staff of hitting some of the home players. However, Benoît Payan - the mayor for the city of Marseille, backed his club's decision not to resume the match.

"Proud of my team for not being prepared to take part in this masquerade," wrote Payan on Twitter.

(Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta; Editing by Catherine Evans and Pritha Sarkar)

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