Soccer

UEFA suspends Patrice Evra until June for kicking fan

Marseille player involved in altercation with supporter also has contract terminated by club

The Associated Press

November 10, 2017

Marseille's Patrice Evra, centre left, is led away by his teammate Rolando after a scuffle with Marseille supporters who trespassed into the field before a Europa League soccer match in Guimaraes, Portugal on Nov. 2. (Luis Vieira/Associated Press)

Marseille defender Patrice Evra has been suspended until June 2018 for kicking one his own team's fans before a Europa League game, UEFA said Friday.

Evra was suspended from "all UEFA club competition matches" until June 30 and must pay a fine of $11,650 US.

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Evra got into a verbal argument with Marseille supporters before the match against Portuguese club Vitoria on Nov. 2. He then aimed a kick at the head of one of the Marseille fans before being ushered away by a teammate.

The 36-year-old France defender was sent off before the game.

Marseille, which has opened its own internal investigation into the incident, said in a statement shortly after UEFA's announcement that it has ended Evra's contract with "immediate effect."

Evra committed an "irreparable" act by "responding to the disgraceful provocations of a handful of individuals," the club said on its website, adding the decision was taken by "mutual consent."

Marseille said it intended to punish fans for the type of misconduct they showed toward Evra, but did not specify whether it would punish those who had insulted the former France defender.

Marseille is well-known for having a powerful fan base that can exert pressure on the club and players alike.

'There's a lot of sadness,' says club president

"There's a lot of sadness today. First of all for Patrice Evra, who has obviously understood all the consequences of his act and that he can no longer fulfil his passion [of playing] for Marseille," club president Jacques-Henri Eyraud said. "For Marseille fans, too, who are stigmatized by the irresponsible behaviour from a handful of them."

Before last Sunday's home game against Caen, fans made it clear to Evra he was no longer welcome at the club, holding aloft two banners criticizing the player before the match at Stade Velodrome.

"This Game Is Over," read one banner in English, mocking Evra's regular posts on social media where he films himself talking about soccer and says "I love this game" as he breaks into laughter.

Former European Cup champion Marseille, the only French club to win the Champions League, was also charged with invasion of the field by its fans, setting off fireworks, and acts of damages. It must pay Vitoria $29,000 US within 30 days.