Saint-Benoît: when the match turns into a fight

What should have been a party for Vincendo Sports, who were leading 2-0 at the end of the match against opponents ASC Labourdonnais, turned into a real nightmare. The incident, which set fire to the powder, occurred on the ground of the Jean-Allane stadium in the 82nd minute. Tackle by a Saint-Joseph player on a Benedictine (Suldani H.) who responds with a bad gesture. Result: the tackle takes a yellow card. As a bonus, Vincendo’s goalkeeper (Quentin M.) leaves his “cages” to strike him.

In the stands, it does not take more for the spirits to warm up. There are about ten Vincendo supporters who have traveled to the East with their families and, many more, those of ASC Labourdonnais who play at home. Particularity of the meeting: Benedictine supporters of the Evêché, a rival club of Labourdonnais, pretend to attend the match. But they are in ambush.

Supporters armed to the teeth

Those of the Bishopric encourage the Vincendo team but they are above all there to do battle with the enemy camp if the opportunity arises. Thus in the 82nd minute, the meeting degenerated following faults and yellow card. Movements of panic, cries and howls fuse from all sides. The violence that follows is unheard of.

Individuals, sometimes very young, are armed with homemade baseball bats, bicycle chains, pebbles, sabers or bottles. A teenager is carrying a knife. In a corner, a hefty guy breaks blocks of stone to distribute them to kids of his caliber. Some, perched on bicycles, use the metal bar of their saddle to strike. Undoubtedly, the aggressors were ready for the attack. It is surprising that access to the stadium enclosure has not been better filtered (see elsewhere).

“Lynched to the ground by three young people”

In this mind-blowing cacophony, several Vincendo players are injured in the head, face or still have marks on their bodies. A manager of the Vincendo club flees on foot with her 5-year-old son whom she shelters in her vehicle. “There was a crowd around the vehicle. They started rocking it. Windows exploded and the child was injured in the knee”, testifies Julien Robert, secretary and manager of the Vincendo club. All were hospitalized with the placement of stitches.

The manager of Vincendo blames the ASC Labourdonnais team, accusing some of the players of having taken part in the lynching of his own. “I’m disgusted. I’m sick of my stomach. I never thought I’d witness such violent scenes one day. At one point, I even thought that one of the guys on the team was going to die.” He refers in particular to one of his players who “was lynched on the ground by three young people”. He recognizes that one of his players came to him “Help by sweeping and knocking out one of the attackers with a punch”.

For their part, the regional football authorities met last night to take emergency measures (see elsewhere). The Disciplinary Committee of the League, which must rule on Wednesday on the fate of a dozen players and leaders of the USSM involved in other violence committed in Saint-Joseph on September 21, will have to open an investigation into the chaotic match at the Jean-Allane stadium. This time again, players and / or managers should be accountable to the disciplinary committee. Because, according to our information, several of them took part in the clashes on Sunday afternoon.

“There is no place for violence and for provocateurs on the ground”

Patrice Selly, mayor of Saint-Benoît reacted yesterday following the violence perpetrated in his town. “I strongly condemn the incidents that occurred this Sunday during the match between ASC Labourdonnais and Vincendo. The facts are unacceptable! Sport must be a party, there is no place for violence and for provocateurs on the field. Following these outbursts, I call for more firmness in controls at stadium entrances. I give my full support to the injured players and young spectators. The ongoing investigation will have to establish responsibilities. I will also receive the leaders of the clubs in order to initiate in-depth work on this phenomenon of violence within stadiums. This type of incident must no longer occur on our territory”, did he declare.

Alexandre Payet, injured Vincendo player: “We tried to save our skin”

Yesterday, the intervention of Hervé Arzal, president of ASC Labourdonnais, on the television news of Antenne Réunion, had the gift of bringing Alexandre Payet, injured player from Vincendo, out of his hinges. “Last night (Editor’s note: Sunday), he came to see me at the hospital to ask for forgiveness. He explained to me that supporters of the Bishopric had hovered and, today (Editor’s note: yesterday), he says that it was the Vincendo players who lit the fuse…it’s not acceptable”.

Injured in the head by a stone throw, Alexandre Payet found himself despite himself in the heart of the violence. “There were 8 minutes left to play. The referee did his job giving a yellow card. A player from Labourdonnais took the opportunity to fight and the fans invaded the field”, he says. Faced with the young people who surged with various and varied weapons in hand, the Vincendo players fled as best they could.

“We tried to save our skins by leaving through the locker room. I dodged two or three projectiles then I received a pebble in the head”, says Alexandre Payet. The Vincendo player could very well have collapsed on the spot but he drew on his reserves to avoid the worst. “I resisted because I told myself that otherwise they would finish me off. I am a father, I couldn’t fall… And I managed to leave the stadium in blood”he continues.

“No security at the stadium entrance”

Released from the hospital with eight days off work, Alexandre Payet remains “traumatized”. “I still have the scenes in my head.” He also has a thought for the little boy of a leader of his club, injured in the car. “The child had three stitches and was scratched.” “When we come to football, we come with family and for fun, not with guys to fight,” continues the player.

For Alexandre Payet, the organizers of the meeting bear a heavy responsibility for the violence that occurred. “There was no security at the entrance to the stadium. When we arrived there was only a man with a bottle of whiskey at the entrance, who smelled of alcohol and was smoking zamal . So it’s no wonder he let the neighborhood kids in.”, accuses Alexandre Payet. Yesterday, the injured player, like others, filed a complaint with the gendarmes of Saint-Benoît who had made the trip to the Saint-Joseph brigade.

Eric Laine
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Saint-Benoît: when the match turns into a fight

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