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French football chief warns there will be ‘deaths inside stadiums’ after season of pitch invasions by ‘criminals’

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A FRENCH football chief has revealed he fears for football fans’ lives after a season of pitch invasions and “criminal” behavior in Ligue 1.

The top division of French football has seen a number of high-profile incidents this season.

AFP
Chaos ensued after St Etienne lost their place in Ligue 1 after a penalty shoot-out defeat to Auxerre[/caption]
AFP
Football chief Vincent Labrune said it was a ‘miracle’ no one had been killed in the incident[/caption]
Reuters
Former West Ham midfielder Dimitri Payet has been caught up in multiple incidents over the last year[/caption]

Pitch invasions, objects being thrown at players and fans attacking their own team are just some of the scenes that have blighted the game this season.

One of the worst moments came when St Etienne fans launched flares at their own players and stormed the pitch after they lost a relegation play-off to AJ Auxerre last month on penalties.

Speaking to L’Equipe, French football league chief Vincent Labrune warned of the safety of the sport if the current trend continues, and said clubs must get rid of “criminal” fans.

He said: “I don’t want to know about a death in a stadium as president.

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“We want to be the Development League, not the War League in the stadiums. I appeal to all of you, to your responsibility. You have to be brave and put these criminals where they belong, not in stadiums.

“We had a disastrous season on and off the pitch. We have to change gears very strongly.

“At the League, we are going to take our responsibility, the clubs must also take theirs and be aware that they must help us, as well as the public authorities.

‘It bothers me when I hear the ANS (national association of supporters) say that there are good and bad supporters, good and bad ultras. No, there are supporters and ultras. I really like the positive fervour of the ultras, but today there are criminals in our enclosures. We have to get them out of stadiums.”

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The football chief added it was a “miracle” that no one had been killed in the incident at St Etienne.

That was the latest in a series of clashes in France.

Earlier in the season, Lyon‘s match against Marseille had to be abandoned after former West Ham playmaker Dimitri Payet was hit by a bottle thrown from the stands.

Payet had also been attacked in August in a game against Nice.

A derby between Lille and Lens was held up by 30 minutes after clashes between fans.

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