AMIENS, France (AP) Four Lille supporters were seriously injured and taken to hospital after a barrier collapsed during the side’s football match at Amiens on Saturday.
Somme prefect Philippe De Mester said “their life is not in danger” as he confirmed the injury toll had risen to 25.
“We are thinking strongly and primarily of our supporters,” Lille CEO Marc Ingla wrote in a series of tweets. “Lille has the right to examine the security conditions offered to our supporters by Amiens and its stadium. Lille hopes that those responsible for this accident are swiftly identified, for the club’s supporters and the victims. And so that this never happens again.”
Fode Ballo-Toure had just struck the opening score of the French league match in the 15th minute when he ran over to a section of Lille fans behind the goal to celebrate. As fans surged forward, the fence collapsed under their weight. Fans tumbled onto the pitch and the match was immediately halted.
Most were able to get back into the stand, but several remained on the ground and were treated for injuries.
After more than half an hour the match was abandoned.
Amiens’ Stade de la Licorne is being refurbished but De Mester insisted the painting and roofing work had nothing to do with the collapse.
He added there was a security inspection of the venue before the game.
“Football should be a celebration and the police had warned us that 200 very worked-up ultras were in the stand reserved for Lille fans,” Amiens president Bernard Joanni said. “And they threw themselves in a disorderly fashion – more than 500 people – onto this barrier which was in a perfect state … imagine 500 people trying to get on the pitch. The league officials need to strongly think about travelling fans.”
Ingla reacted strongly to Joanni’s apparent attempt to blame Lille’s supporters.
“The Amiens president’s comments appear irresponsible and disgraceful in this dramatic context,” he tweeted. “Our supporters are irreproachable and professional football demands the best organization. We hope that the French league identifies those responsible.”