Dublin: 12°C Sunday 26 June 2022

Nantes fans gatecrash club's survival celebrations and attack staff

The French club barely escaped relegation on away goals yesterday.

Nantes played Toulouse on Sunday.
Nantes played Toulouse on Sunday.
Image: Imago/PA Images

SEVERAL DOZEN HOODED men burst into the Nantes stadium late on Sunday as players and staff were celebrating the club’s survival in Ligue 1, a source at the club said.

The interlopers broke in at around 10:45pm and attacked staff and damaged property before fleeing.

One was restrained by club employees and handed over to the police, the same source said.

Fan hostility to Waldemar Kita, the club’s owner and president since 2007, has intensified this season as the club flirted with relegation.

The Canaries barely escaped the drop on away goals on Sunday. They lost 1-0 at home to Toulouse after winning away 2-1.

It brought to an end a turbulent season for Nantes in which they had three coaches, including a disastrous and short-lived spell under reviled former France coach Raymond Domenech.

Fans greeted Domenech’s arrival at his first training session in late December with clown music, and things did not improve much before his sacking in mid-February without a single win.

Fans have held anti-Kita demonstrations before every game and have campaigned on social media and with slogans on walls around the city.

Anti-Kita fan groups also claimed a PR victory on social media on Sunday.

After the regular season ended, they held a mock funeral and buried a small coffin with “FC Kita” painted on it on a patch of ground near the club’s Stade Beaujoire.

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Late in the evening one group tweeted photos of an empty hole in the ground and two men closely associated with Kita carrying the coffin alongside the Beaujoire pitch, where the club’s post-match party was held.

“Gravediggers, grave robbers, necrophiles,” crowed a tweet, naming the two men as Nantes executive Mogi Mayat and player agent Bakari Sanogo, both unpopular with supporters.

They “couldn’t think of anything better than digging up FC Kita’s coffin to kick off the evening of celebrations at La Beaujoire,” the tweet added.

© – AFP, 2021

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