James Walker-Roberts

Nice president Jean-Pierre Rivere blamed Marseille players for causing the ugly scenes that led to the derby clash being suspended on Sunday.

The Ligue 1 match descended into chaos when Marseille’s Dimitri Payet threw a bottle into the crowd after it had hit him in the back as he went to take a corner.

Fans poured on to the pitch and clashed with players and stewards, with Marseille’s Matteo Guendouzi and Luan Peres among the players left with visible injuries.

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The match was eventually suspended after Marseille, who were losing 1-0, refused to continue due to fears over their safety.

“We had water bottles thrown, that we can not dispute”, admitted Nice president Rivere.

“Unfortunately what set it alight was the reaction of two Marseille players who returned bottles, into our supporters’ stand and after that it got out of control.

“It is disappointing that it ends like this. Things are quite clear. Marseille’s security should not have come onto the pitch and hit our players. I don’t really understand why Marseille didn’t restart.

It was reported that Rivere and his Marseille counterpart Pablo Longoria almost came to blows in the stands.

“They grabbed each other by the collar and the bodyguards had to separate them,” a witness told AFP.

Longoria said that Marseille players were “attacked” and explained why they decided to not continue playing.

“The league decided to resume the match. We decided for the safety of our players, who were attacked during the pitch invasion, not to resume because the safety of our players was not guaranteed.

“The referee agreed with us, he confirmed to (Marseille coach) Jorge Sampaoli and me that safety was not guaranteed and decided to stop the game.”

Marseille’s opening 3-2 win at Montpellier two weeks ago was also held up after Valentin Rongier was hit on the head by a bottle.

The game was suspended for around 10 minutes before play resumed and it was completed.

Longoria added: “This is the second time it’s happened. We have already experienced this in Montpellier where we decided to continue after the decision to carry on was made.

“What happened today is unacceptable. We must make it a precedent for French football and that’s why we decided to return to Marseille.”

Nice, leading from an early second-half goal by Kasper Dolberg, had hoped to see the match through to the final whistle.

“I know very well that the match could have resumed,” said Rivere. “I was convinced that it would go very well. Unfortunately the Marseille players did not wish to resume the match.”

The mayor of Marseille, Benoit Payan, reacted on Twitter: “Injured players, failing security: the match should never have been resumed. Sad decision. Proud of my team, which did not play along with this farce.”

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