Saint-Etienne fans storm pitch, throw flares at players after relegation

Riot police officers clash with Saint-Etienne's fans who invaded the pitch. (JEAN-PHILIPPE KSIAZEK/AFP via Getty Images)
Riot police officers clash with Saint-Etienne's fans who invaded the pitch. (JEAN-PHILIPPE KSIAZEK/AFP via Getty Images) /

Sunday’s Ligue 1 playoff ended in utter chaos as Saint-Etienne fans angrily stormed the pitch and threw flares at players after suffering relegation.

The last month of soccer action in Europe has featured as many pitch stormings as trophies handed out. Sadly, on Sunday, the most stunning one of all occurred at the end of the Ligue 1 playoff between Saint-Etienne and Auxerre.

A penalty shoot-out saw Auxerre earn promotion while A.S.S.E. were dumped down into the second division.

Saint-Etienne are 10-time French champions, tied for the most in Ligue 1 history. With such a rich history in the top division, fans didn’t take well to the idea of being relegated to Ligue 2 for the first time since they returned to the top flight in 2004.

Once the shoot-out was decided, fans stormed the pitch and began throwing flares and other fireworks-type devices toward the tunnel through which players and staff were exiting.

Stunning video of Saint-Etienne fans throwing flares at players

The pitch invaders had to be pushed back by police in riot gear with tear gas.

French journalist Adrien Blettery and others shared videos of the aftermath on Twitter.

This kind of outburst had been building for some time. Incidents earlier this season resulted in one portion of the stands being closed to fans because of poor behavior. Clearly, the fans didn’t take that punishment to heart. They upped the ante in the most disgraceful way.

It hasn’t been a particularly proud weekend for soccer in France. Saturday’s Champions League Final between Liverpool and Real Madrid was marred by crowd mismanagement that resulted in a delayed kickoff.

Liverpool have called for an investigation into the handling of the situation by French police, who reportedly used tear gas and pepper spray on peaceful fans who waited for hours in backed-up lines to get into the stadium.

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