Esperance coach wants Tunisian fans banned after riots, Etoile board resigns

Hatem Maher, Wednesday 22 Aug 2012

Tunisian supporters are still immature, says Esperance coach Nabil Maaloul

Etoile Sportive du Sahel and Esperance Sportive de Tunis
Supporters of Tunisia's Etoile Sportive du Sahel soccer club run as tear gas is fired during clashes in an African Champions League soccer match against Esperance Sportive de Tunis at the Sousse Olympic stadium (Photo: Reuters)

Esperance coach Nabil Maaloul said on Wednesday Tunisian fans should be banned from attending football games following crowd troubles which led to the cancellation of an African Champions League clash on Saturday.

Etoile Sahel's game against Tunisian rivals Esperance in Sousse was called off nine minutes past the hour mark after the home fans threw smoke bombs at the visiting players and technical staff members before storming the pitch.

Esperance were leading 2-0 when the referee abandoned the Group A match.

"Personally, I have always been against the comeback of spectators into stadiums in Tunisia," Maaloul was quoted as saying by the official website of the Confederation of African Football (CAF).

"Following what we have seen today, my message is addressed to the concerned ministry and the federation: supporters are still immature to assume the place in the stadiums.

"Imagine that we were unable to take our place on the reserve bench, and substitute players were unable to warm up. It was no longer a football match," he added.

Tunisian authorities agreed to allow fans back to the stands in February after a ban was brought in fear of violence following last year's revolution which toppled former president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

Etoile, who lie third in their group with four points, three behind second-placed Sunshine Stars and eight adrift of leaders Esperance, are likely to be sanctioned by CAF.

The club's board of directors said in a statement it would resign following the ugly scenes in Sousse.

"We reduced the entry into the stadium, hired stewards and intervened with people who have some authority over groups of supporters in order to control them ... what could we do?," Etoile president Ridha Charfeddine said.

"Our supporters have to understand that the team is young and is under rebuilding period. Even if they lost or were eliminated from the African Cup, it was not the end of the world.

"What happened neither honours the image of our country nor that of Sousse. A football match does not mean a Tunisian should be wounded with a stone or any other weapon."

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