French club Montpellier in turmoil after point deduction and training-ground brawl

Thu, Oct 26, 2023
Soccer News (AP)

French club Montpellier in turmoil after point deduction and training-ground brawl

A brawl between the coach and a player. Unruly fans costing the team a surefire win. And now a point deducted in the standings.

Everything seems to be falling apart at French club Montpellier.

If fans were hoping that Montpellier could still thrive after the departure of striker Elye Wahi to Lens this summer, that optimism has been quickly dashed.

While the 20-year-old Wahi is flourishing at his new club, his former teammates will host Toulouse in a morose atmosphere on Sunday.

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After a decent start to the season, Montpellier got into trouble two weeks ago and things have gone from bad to worse since then.

Montpellier was leading a league game 4-2 against Clermont and heading for a certain win when the 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 fell to the ground and received treatment before being taken off on a stretcher.

"When you win 4-2 and there are five minutes left, cheer on your players! But don't throw a firecracker," Montpellier president Laurent Nicollin said. "It's just complete stupidity."

Diaw was not seriously hurt but the incident could have a major impact on Montpellier at the end of the season if it stays near the relegation zone.

The French league decided Wednesday that the game will be replayed without fans. It also docked Montpellier one point, with an additional one-point deduction suspended.

As a result, Montpellier moved down to 15th place in the standings, only three points above the relegation zone.

In addition, the league's disciplinary committee ordered that the stand that hosts the club's diehard fans should be partially closed for two matches.

To add to the turmoil, defender Mamadou Sakho and coach Michel Der Zakarian were reportedly involved in a training ground brawl this week that will likely lead to the departure of the former France player.

According to L'Equipe newspaper and local radio broadcaster France Bleu Herault, the 33-year-old Sakho grabbed his coach by the collar following a heated verbal dispute, throwing him to the ground.

Sakho did not train with his teammates on Wednesday amid reports he has been suspended during an internal investigation. Sakho, who joined Montpellier in 2021 until the end of this season, had already lost his place in the starting lineup and had been the target of fans' criticism in recent months.

Against Toulouse, which is unbeaten in its last three league matches, Montpellier will rely on Jordan winger Mousa Al Tamari and striker Akor Adams to turn things around. Both were signed this summer to compensate for the departure of Wahi and have so far combined for a total of eight goals.

Leader Monaco travels to Lille on Sunday and defending champion PSG plays at Brest after a 3-0 win against AC Milan midweek in the Champions League.


AP soccer:

SAMUEL PETREQUIN Petrequin is covering European news and sports. twitter mailto "
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