Lille fans fall as security barrier in stands gives way at Amiens

Saturday's Ligue 1 game at Amiens was abandoned after a barrier in the stands collapsed, seriously injuring four supporters.

The first few rows of visiting Lille fans fell about five feet, down to the level of the pitch at the Stade de la Licorne.

Somme prefect Philippe De Mester said 25 people were injured, four of them seriously, when the barrier collapsed in Amiens, but told LCI that "their lives are not in danger."

The fans had been celebrating Lille's opening goal, scored by Fode Ballo in the 15th minute, when the barrier in front of their section gave way.

Referee Thomas Leonard immediately halted proceedings and sent the two teams back to the changing rooms, as the emergency services started to tend to the injured. The game was called off following a meeting of security officials.

Amiens, just promoted to Ligue 1 this season, said fans left the stadium without incident after the announcement that the game would not resume.

De Mester confirmed the stadium was being refurbished, but insisted the painting and roofing work had nothing to do with the collapse. He added there was a security inspection of the venue before the game.

"We are thinking strongly and primarily of our supporters," Lille CEO Marc Ingla wrote in a series of tweets. "Lille have the right to examine the security conditions offered to our supporters by Amiens and its stadium.

"Lille hope that those responsible for this accident are swiftly identified, for the club's supporters and the victims. And so that this never happens again."

Amiens president Bernard Joanni placed the blame on Lille supporters, claiming they purposely put excess pressure on the barrier.

"`Football should be a celebration and the police had warned us that 200 very worked-up ultras were in the stand reserved for Lille fans," Joanni said. "And they threw themselves in a disorderly fashion -- more than 500 people -- onto this barrier which was in a perfect state ... imagine 500 people trying to get on the pitch. The league officials need to strongly think about travelling fans.''

Lille's Ingla reacted strongly to Joanni's attempt to blame the victims.

"The Amiens president's comments appear irresponsible and disgraceful in this dramatic context," he tweeted. "Our supporters are irreproachable and professional football demands the best organisation. We hope that the French league identifies those responsible.''

Amiens later released a statement saying Joanni and some of the region's main politicians went to the Centre Hospitalier d'Amiens, where the fans were being treated. Lille said club president Gerard Lopez would visit the hospital on Sunday.

"The club of Amiens and all their directors express their solidarity with the injured supporters of Lille and their families, guaranteeing that their health matters to us more than anything," Amiens' statement said.