Lyon bus attacked in Marseille - When does being an ‘ultra’ become too far?

After shocking events which led to the cancellation of the Ligue 1 clash between Marseille and Lyon, when does being an 'ultra' football fan cross the line?

Adam Symes
7th November 2023
Image Credit - X @eurofootcom
French football team Olympique Lyonnais’ team bus was attacked by rival Marseille fans on Sunday the 29th October.

The incident happened before the two top flight French teams were due to play each other at Marseille’s stadium, Stade Velodrome, in a Ligue 1 clash.

As the bus was heading to the stadium it was reported that rocks and other projectiles were being thrown at the bus’s windows, presumably by Marseille fans. This act of violence led to 9 arrests and left Lyon’s head coach, Fabio Grosso, with severe facial injuries and nearly led to him losing an eye.

Olympique Marseille later put out a club statement which read ‘The club wishes a speedy recovery to Lyon coach Fabio Grosso and strongly condemns this violent behaviour which has no place in the world of football and in society’.

The club and league officials also decided to postpone the game due to safety concerns for the players and coaching staff.

This shocking event highlights what has been a problematic subculture in football which is that of fans becoming ‘ultras’ or ‘football hooligans’.

Hooliganism has long been a part of football and has caused major issues such as the Heysel Stadium riot in 1985 which caused a ban for all English clubs from European competition for 5 years. Therefore, football ‘ultras’ and ‘hooligans’ causing trouble isn’t a new topic of conversation, but when innocent football staff members start getting caught in the crossfire of this violent sub culture its definitely a step too far.

Of course, most of the time no real damage is done by these fans and only little scuffles and fights usually break out between these passionate opposing fans. However, the odd few times where serious events do occur such as the Lyon bus attack does raise the question of whether footballing/policing authorities should be doing more to counteract the potential negative ramifications that these fans could cause.

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