Soccer game

Start of football match in France delayed due to crowd fights

NICE, France — The start of a Europa Conference League match between Nice and Cologne on Thursday was delayed due to brawls between supporters in the stands of the Allianz Riviera stadium.

Kick-off was pushed back 55 minutes to 7:40 p.m. local time due to crowd disturbances. Fans were fighting before the start of the match at the Stade de Nice.

French media reported that 18 people were injured. The match ended in a 1-1 draw.

“OGC Nice condemns in the strongest possible terms the incidents that took place before the match, which started with damage in the city, followed by the forced entry of dozens of hooligans from the area reserved for Cologne fans into the stand. presidential,” said the Frenchman. the club said in a statement.

Stunned by this outburst of violence, even though it had done everything possible to welcome FC Cologne supporters in the best possible conditions, OGC Nice expresses its distress for the Nice public, witnesses and victims of these incidents and forced to wait nearly 45 minutes before being allowed into their stadium before kick-off,” the statement continued.

The German club said it “condemns all forms of violence in the strongest possible terms. We stand for sporting, fair and respectful behavior towards each other. We apologize to all peaceful fans who had made it a football festival so far.

With the teams in their dressing rooms before the game, Cologne captain Jonas Hector came out and urged the fans to remain peaceful, according to Cologne’s English-language Twitter account.

“We can’t wait to play this game with you. We all want the game to happen. But it also has to be said that what happened is not good. We don’t want to see that,” Hector said. .

More AP Soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports