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Leagues: Ligue Un

Metz chief defends controversial Bataclan comments

Metz (France) (AFP) – The president of French Ligue 1 side Metz expressed his shock at the uproar caused by controversial comments comparing the club’s two-point deduction for crowd trouble to blaming management of the Bataclan concert venue targeted by extremists in November 2015.

“I’m shocked to read and hear since last night (Friday) that I wished to compare the incidents that unfolded at the Stade Saint-Symphorien on December 3, which only resulted in a minor injury, to those tragic events that caused bloodshed at the Bataclan and in Paris in November 2015,” said Metz president Bernard Serin.

“At no point could I have had this stupidity or gross and obscene lack of perspective. 

“I didn’t compare the events themselves, which are clearly incomparable. I compared my powerlessness as an event organiser to the unjust nature of the punishment that follows.

“This controversy is completely incomprehensible. I’m deeply affected by the things that have been wrongly attributed to me.”

Metz were punished by the French league and ordered to replay their top-flight match against Lyon with the original fixture abandoned last month after firecrackers thrown by their fans injured visiting goalkeeper Anthony Lopes.

Metz led 1-0 at the time while Portugal international Lopes was subsequently taken to hospital where he was diagnosed with “acoustic trauma”.

The club was docked three points, with one point suspended, and the match will be replayed behind closed doors.

“I’d almost go as far as saying it’s as if, 15 months ago, the law had condemned the Bataclan,” Serin said on Friday, linking the punishment of his side to the November 13, 2015 shootings in a terrorist attack that left 90 dead in the French capital.

Saying Metz were “victims,” Serin blasted the punishment as “unjust, incomprehensible and above all dangerous as it gives supporters yet more power to influence the result of matches”.

He said the club had identified the two men believed responsible for throwing the firecrackers and would see them brought to justice.

The points reduction leaves the northeasterners in the drop zone.

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