In all the excitement for the new season, I’ve forgotten the axe that’s hanging over OL’s neck. In case you’re like me and pretending that this isn’t happening, here’s a recap:
Last March, during the Europa League Round of 16 game against CSKA Moscow, UEFA charged Lyon with the following:
– Throwing of objects and setting off of fireworks
– Crowd disturbances
– Blocked stairways
– Racist behavior
While the first three are troublesome but expected to happen every once in a while, the last is the most serious one. During the match, Nazi symbols were displayed by a group of asshole fans, and prior to the match, over 100 fans attacked a police anti-terrorism unit. Eight police officers were hurt, three fans were arrested, and a non-white fan was reportedly attacked as well.
That’s a big fucking deal. UEFA does not tolerate this nonsense. And while the club was quick to denounce the actions of these hooligans, UEFA has made it clear in the past that clubs bear responsibility for the behavior of its supporters, especially when they are the home team.
What does this mean for OL?
Some of you may recall that Lyon is already under a suspended sentence, which stems from an April 2017 match against Besiktas . Crowd fighting caused the match to be delayed for 45 minutes. UEFA fined both clubs and put them on probation for two years, with the caveat that any additional trouble would mean suspension from European competition. See video below (for better quality, go here).
And one year later…it happened again.
UEFA were scheduled to meet about this on May 31st, but this was pushed back to July 19th. OL will appear before the committee, go down on their knees, and beg to the high heavens for any sentence other than suspension.
The club worked so hard to get back to the Champions League, and they are depending on the increased revenue from Europe as well. If they miss out on a European season, not only will they be in financial trouble, but more players like Depay and Ndombele will jump ship. And Lyon may not have the financial strength to say no.
For what it’s worth, the club is reportedly calm about this. We’ll find out what happens tomorrow, but for now, think good thoughts and hope it works out.