St Étienne and Auxerre played the second leg of their relegation playoff at the former’s home stadium, the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard. The match decided which one of the teams will play in the country’s top flight — Ligue 1 — next season, with the visitors Auxerre emerging victorious on penalties.
Multiple videos circulated on social media showing St Étienne fans charging the pitch and setting off flares at the end of the match.
French broadcaster RMC Sport reported that this forced players from both teams to be evacuated down the tunnel amid concerns for their safety.
“Despite an exceptional and reinforced system of close to 500 agents, many supporters invaded the pitch at the final whistle of the match against AJ Auxerre,” St Étienne said in a statement.
“Some were then guilty of several degradations and acts of violence towards the players of the game, security agents, the police and the Tribune Pierre-Faurand.
“The ASSE [St Étienne] strongly condemns these actions and gives its full support to those affected and will initiate the necessary legal proceedings.”
In total, 14 police officers, 17 fans and two Auxerre players suffered light injuries in the post-match incident, according to a press release from state service Préfète de la Loire. Police were able to safely escort the players and the 1,154 Auxerre fans away from the stadium.
Initially, St Étienne released a statement only about the loss.
“For the Association Sportive de Saint-Étienne, the 2021-2022 season ends with the painful sanction of relegation to Ligue 2, after eighteen consecutive seasons in Ligue 1.
“We share the immense pain and sadness of all those who love the Greens, whether they are supporters or partners. This failure must be accepted,” the statement continued.
St Étienne had already played a game behind closed doors earlier in the season in November after fan protests halted a match against Angers in October.
Similarly, a fixture between Lyon and Marseille
was abandoned last November. The abandonment came after Marseille player Dimitri Payet was hit in the head by a bottle thrown by the Lyon fans.
The incident was the second time Payet had been struck by a bottle thrown from the stands.
In August, the Marseille player was hit by a bottle in a game against Nice, leading the league to dock the home team two points in the standings, one of which was suspended, and ordered them to replay the match.
CNN has reached out to Ligue 1 for comment about Sunday’s game but did not immediately hear back.