PARIS: Prosecutors and the French football authorities have kaunched investigations after 29 fans were injured when safety barriers collapsed at a Ligue 1 game between Amiens and Lille on Saturday.
The match was abandoned after a barrier at the Stade de la Licorne broke seconds after Lille scored in 15th minute of the local northern derby match.
Safety at French stadia has improved drastically since 1992 when 18 people were killed after a stand collapsed at the Armand Cesari Stadium before a French Cup game between hosts Bastia and Olympique de Marseille.
Amiens president Bernard Joannin, whose stadium opened in 1999, told a news conference that there had been no signs of any problems with the barrier and blamed ultra fans from Lille.
He said: “There was no problem with the barrier. The police warned us of about 200 ultras that were extremely irritable in the area reserved for the Lille supporters. They rushed in a disorderly fashion – more than 500 of them – on to this barrier which was in perfect condition.”
French media reported that there has been construction at the stadium, but that was limited to the roofing at the other side of where the accident happened.
Nathalie Boy de la Tour, president of the professional football league, told BFM TV that the stadium had passed standard safety checks.
Lille chief executive, Marc Ingla, said on Twitter that Joannin’s comments were “irresponsible.” He added: “Our supporters are irreproachable and professional football demands the best organisation.”