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Racist chants half Ligue 1 relegation battle and Lyon crash again

Paris (AFP) – Friday’s French Ligue 1 game between Dijon and Amiens was temporarily suspended after the visitors’ captain Prince Gouano complained he was racially abused.

The match ended 0-0, but for a few minutes it seemed it might be abandoned.

In the late game, Lyon dropped three star players, who had reportedly fought in training, and crashed to a third straight defeat, losing 2-1 away to another relegation-haunted team, Nantes 

In Dijon, the game was stopped in the 78th minute as players from both sides headed towards the touchline of the Stade Gaston-Gerard after Gouano said he heard insults from behind the goal his side was defending.

“It’s over,” Gouano, the team captain, said. “We’re not playing on. I’m taking off my team-mates. We’re going to the changing room.”

Following discussions between players, coaches and officials Gouano approached the stand by pointing toward supporters in the crowd. Play then resumed.

“We are in the 21st century, it’s unacceptable, I marked the incident by stopping play because these days we are all equal,” Gouano told French broadcaster BeIn Sport after the game.

“Of course there are colours, but you have to rise above it. We are all human beings. The key word for me is love. You have to love the person next to you,” he added.

Paris-born Gouano said in March he wished to represent the Ivory Coast.

The incident comes after rising Italy star Moise Kean was targeted by racist abuse in Cagliari after he scored for Juventus in Serie A earlier in the month.

“I didn’t hear the chants but if there were of course we totally support the cause, like with Blaise Matuidi at Juventus, when he wanted to stop the match,” Dijon forward Benjamin Jeannot told BeIn Sport.

“I find it normal he wanted the game stopped, it’s not easy to control, I deeply support him,” he added.

After the game the French league said it would investigate and also announced that Dijon had identified the culprit. The club said they intended to press charges. 

In Nantes, Lyon dropped Marcelo, Nabil Fekir and Memphis Depay, three stars who have played poorly in the club’s recent catastrophic run, as well a Ferland Mendy. French television reported before the game that the four men were involved in a pair of bust ups at training on Thursday. 

Depay’s exile only lasted until the 34th minute when he came on for the injured Lucas Tousart with Lyon already trailing to a goal by Kalifa Coulibaly. 

Martin Terrier levelled before half time but Anthony Limbombe scored the winner with seven minutes to play.

Lyon stay adrift in third, six points behind Lille in second and five ahead of Saint-Etienne. Nantes moved nine points clear of Dijon who occupy the first potential relegation place.

“At the end of the season, we’re going to have to ask some tough questions,” Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas told the waiting microphones after the game.

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