Nantes fan dies after being ‘stabbed’ before club’s 1-0 win over Nice

Nantes fan dies after being ‘stabbed’ before club’s 1-0 win over Nice

A Nantes supporter has been killed during a brawl before the club’s 1-0 win over Nice in the latest outbreak of violence to overshadow French football.

Prosecutors said he suffered a wound to his back during clashes after Nantes hooligans attacked vehicles transporting visiting Nice supporters to the Beaujoire stadium.

L’Equipe newspaper reported the fan was a member of the Brigade Loire, Nantes’ main group of diehard fans. The eight-time French champions confirmed authorities had launched an investigation into voluntary manslaughter.

Nantes public prosecutor Renaud Gaudeul said the incident took place shortly before 8pm local time, when several private hire vehicles carrying Nice fans were on their way to the match.

“The very first forensic investigations show that the victim had a wound on his back, possibly caused by a bladed weapon,” the prosecutor said, quoted by French media.

Local newspaper Ouest France reported that the suspected assailant initially fled the scene before turning himself in at a police station. Gaudeul said on Sunday that “a VTC [French taxi company] driver” showed up at the Nantes police station and was taken into custody on charges including voluntary manslaughter, adding that the suspect was a 35-year-old man.

French sports minister Amelie Oudea-Castera expressed her “great sorrow” in a message posted on X. “My thoughts are with his family, his loved ones and his friends in the stands,” Oudea-Castera wrote.

Nantes coach Jocelyn Gourvennec, who was appointed this week, said he only found out about the supporter’s death after the match.

“I can’t imagine how you can go to a soccer match, sometimes with your family, and be between life and death after a match,” he said. “It’s inconceivable. The players talked about it a lot in the dressing room, they were very touched.”

Ligue 1 has seen an upsurge of violence in stadiums over the past two campaigns. According to interior minister Gerald Darmanin, more than 100 police officers were injured in soccer-related incidents last season.

In October in Montpellier, a match was stopped in added time after fans threw a firework from the stands that landed next to Clermont goalkeeper Mory Diaw. The Senegal player had to be taken off on a stretcher, but was not seriously injured.

Weeks later in Marseille, a bus carrying Lyon players was stoned by fans outside the Velodrome stadium. The windows were smashed and then-Lyon coach Fabio Grosso was left with his face bloodied, an injury that required stitches.