Even before 1. FC Köln drew in Nice, riots overshadowed the evening. At least one fan is in critical condition, contrary to initial assumptions, this is probably not German.
The hoped-for holiday on the Cote d’Azur turned into dark hours for 1. FC Köln – in the end there was a sporting draw and many unanswered questions about the terrible riots. In their first group game of the Conference League, the Bundesliga team drew 1-1 (1-0) at OGC Nice (read the game in LIVETICKER), but the outcome of the game was already in the background before kick-off.
It was “not easy” to “focus on football again,” said Cologne assistant coach Andre Pawlak, who replaced the suspended Steffen Baumgart.
One fan was in extremely critical condition, a total of 18 supporters from both sides were injured and three required hospital treatment. Contrary to what was initially assumed, the man who was particularly badly affected is not supposed to be German.
Cellar: Chaos? “I can only think of swear words”
“We are stunned, we wanted to celebrate a peaceful football festival, everything was prepared,” said Cologne’s managing director Christian Keller RTL+. He doesn’t know whether the word “chaotic” is enough, “I can only think of swear words. I don’t know what these people are doing here”.
The seriously injured fan had fallen from the second tier from a height of five meters during the riots, it was reported AFP. Only later did it become clear that it was not a supporter of the Bundesliga club. A spokesman for the authorities told AFP that he was “actually a Frenchman, a Parisian fan” who was in the guest block.
As the news agency also reported, at the beginning of the clashes, a few hundred of the more than 8,000 Cologne fans who had traveled with them pushed their way onto a grandstand of the home fans.
Unclear situation: PSG hooligans involved?
According to Keller, however, the situation was more opaque: “According to the information I have, which you have to be very careful with, it was hooligans from Nice who got into our fan block first.” In addition, some “hooligans from Paris” were on the move in the Cologne camp – this account coincided with AFP information. Ultras from Nice’s arch-rival Paris St. Germain also unrolled a provocative banner in the Cologne block.
Keller also targeted the Cologne fans involved: “You have to make sure that these people never, ever come back to the stadium, at least not to ours.”
FC captain Jonas Hector addressed a few words to the fans in the stadium in an announcement before 7 p.m. “We’re really keen to play the game with you,” he said, “we also want the game to take place, but we have to say that we don’t approve of that.”
He asks the supporters: “Keep your nerves, stay calm, support us as best you can. That’s what the club wants too. That we stand together and just celebrate football in peace and not violence.”
Nice’s mayor speaks of “scandalous behavior”
1. FC Köln and the fans had been looking forward to the start of the group phase of the Conference League for days, for FC it was the return to the European stage after five years.
Around 8,000 fans had tickets for the match, around 12,000 had traveled with them and marched through the city loudly but peacefully at noon – but they didn’t just make friends.
Nice Mayor Christian Estrosi tweeted pictures of heaps of rubbish in the city center in the afternoon, denounced the “scandalous behavior” of the visiting fans and announced that he would send FC the bill for cleaning and any repairs.