Things are not going well for Olympique de Marseille at present. The nine-time Ligue 1 winners have suffered three straight defeats and are struggling in sixth place in Le Championnat after just one win from five matches. Their title hopes have faded to the point that continental qualification now looks in doubt. And supporters decided to make sure that President Jacques Henri Eyraud who runs the team for American Frank McCourt aware of just how displeased they are.
On Saturday, just hours before a scheduled important league clash with European berth rivals Stade Rennais at Stade Velodrome, a large group of irate OM supporters stormed the Commanderie training facility to confront the players and staff regarding the club's current state. The unrest has forced the postponement of the match.
Coach Andre Villas-Boas admitted on Friday that he will almost certainly leave the club this summer as he has not received a contract extension offer after returning the fallen giants of French football to the UEFA Champions League and the Portuguese has been prone to angry and confrontational outbursts this season.
OM's continued continental capitulations played a role in the fans' anger, as does poor current league form despite a game in hand, but the main target of their ire was President Eyraud who is the figurehead of the McCourt-owned club that once dreamed of a "Champions Project" to rival bitter rivals Paris Saint-Germain and their lavish Qatari investment.
Although there are conflicting reports about the exact extent of the damage done during the incident, CBS Sports sources can confirm that defender Alvaro Gonzalez was struck by a projectile as the Marseille fanbase illustrated their anger at the direction of their club at present.
Due to the unprecedented scenes just hours before the Rennes clash, with footage showing fans breaking into the complex and launching flares in the direction of players and staff, the match was postponed due to the traumatic nature of events and Alvaro's injury.
Marseille later released an official statement condemning the "unacceptable attack" by "a few hundred individuals from Ultras groups" that resulted in "several hundred thousand Euros" of damage and confirmed their desire to press charges shortly.
[Official Statement] Olympique de Marseille strongly condemns the unacceptable attack of which the club was the victim.— Olympique de Marseille 🇬🇧 🇺🇸 (@OM_English) January 30, 2021
"Three hundred employees are tonight in a state of shock for having lived live or discovered the images of an unspeakable attack against the OM Institution," said Eyraud. "What happened this afternoon calls for the utmost severity for these troublemakers who claim to be supporters but destroy facilities and threaten employees and players."
Long-serving captain Steve Mandanda also expressed his "sadness" at the incident while condemning the "unacceptable" behaviour.
"I've been a player at Olympique de Marseille for 13 years," said the France international. "I know everything about this club, I know the love and frustration it can arouse. But today's events sadden me and are unacceptable. We are football players and a sports crisis can in no way justify such a wave of violence. This is a time for appeasement."
"I came to Olympique de Marseille for its history and the passion that surrounds it," added victim Alvaro. "This city is wonderful, we all love this club but what we have experienced today must never happen again."
McCourt himself later issued an official statement and drew parallels between the storming of the Capitol and this weekend's incidents.
"The times we are going through are troubled, sometimes shaken by uncontrolled actions and yet orchestrated by very malevolent forces," said the former LA Dodgers owner. "Along with so many citizens in America and around the world, I have been shocked and outraged by the scenes of the Capitol being stormed by irresponsible people obeying injunctions beyond their control. Misinformation and lies, spread by social media, achieved the unthinkable by shaking one of the emblematic centers of Democracy. What happened some weeks ago in Washington DC and what happened yesterday in Marseille follow a comparable logic: a few sources feed an inferno of opinions, invectives, and threats that are amplified by social media creating the conditions that lead to violence and chaos."
Marseille were not alone in being targeted by their own fans this weekend as AS Saint-Etienne supporters also confronted their squad due another poor run of form this campaign that sees them dangling above the relegation zone, although that incident ended in peaceful applause.