‘Karate kick’ Evra leaves Marseille, banned until June 30
Patrice Evra parted ways with Marseille on Friday after his infamous karate kick on one of his own fans, just moments after being banned from European tournaments until June 30, 2018.
Marseille said they and the 36-year-old defender had both agreed the former Manchester United and French international would leave by “mutual consent”.
“The player’s contract is officially terminated with immediate effect,” said the club.
Moments earlier, Evra was banned by UEFA from all European tournaments until June 30 and fined 10,000 euros ($11,650).
Evra was widely condemned for the assault on a Marseille spectator which took place during the pre-match warm-up of a Europa League tie at Portuguese side Vitoria Guimaraes last week.
He had been suspended by Marseille in the wake of the controversy while the club’s fanatical followers made it abundantly clear that he was no longer welcome at the Stade Velodrome.
“This Game is Over” said a banner unfurled at the ground at last weekend’s 5-0 win over Caen.
Another banner read: “We don’t want you in our colours anymore. Evra get lost.”
Marseille president Jacques-Henri Eyraud said Friday that it was a sombre day for the 1993 European champions.
“Today, there is sadness, firstly for Patrice Evra, who obviously understood the consequences of his actions and who will no longer be able to display his passion at Marseille,” said Eyraud.
“Then, for the supporters of Marseille, who are stigmatised because of the irresponsible behaviour of a handful of them.
“Finally, for the club, whose reputation is tainted.”
Parallels with Cantona
The ban handed down by UEFA mirrored that given to Evra’s French compatriot Eric Cantona for his flying kick in 1995.
Cantona, who was playing for Manchester United at Crystal Palace when the attack took place, was banned for eight months by the English FA.
UEFA added Friday that they have not asked FIFA to extend the ban internationally which would have prevented Evra from seeking a new club outside of Europe.
France national coach Didier Deschamps said he was saddened by the affair.
“It’s a very complicated situation, I wouldn’t wish anyone to be in this situation,” said Deschamps after France’s 2-0 friendly win over Wales in Paris on Friday night.
“The sanctions have been announced and they are heavy.”
Evra had already attempted damage limitation at the weekend.
“Great result tonight well done guys I’m really proud of you. Thanks to all real Olympique Marseille fans… I’m receiving so much support from them,” he wrote on his Instagram account after the win against Caen.
Marseille’s American owner Frank McCourt said that Evra’s moment of madness was “unacceptable” but had also pointed the finger at the fans involved.
“This was unacceptable behaviour, from both the player and the supporters,” McCourt told La Provence newspaper.
“It’s not something that we can tolerate at Marseille, it’s as simple as that.
“It’s a very regrettable incident and it is really a pity to see a great player like Patrice pushed to a point where he behaves like that,” McCourt said.
Hardline Marseille fans insisted that Evra was no longer welcome at the club.
“It’s not possible for him to play again at the ‘Vel’,” Michel Tonini, the head of Yankees Virage Nord supporters group and who was at the game in Portugal, told AFP on Thursday, referring to Marseille’s Velodrome home.
Another group, Les Fanatics, said in a statement that Evra must bear all responsibility.
“The only person who committed an act of violence was the one wearing the blue and white shirt,” they said.
“To suggest that fans travelled for 40 hours by bus just to insult one player is as stupid as it is unfounded.”
Evra’s career has been dogged by controversy. At the 2010 World Cup in South Africa he led a revolt of the French players against coach Raymond Domenech.
A year later, while playing for Manchester United, Evra was the target of a racist insult from then Liverpool striker Luis Suarez. The Uruguayan was banned for eight matches and fined over the incident.
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