The situation is tense in the streets of Marseille, a few hours before the start of the Conference League quarterfinals between OM and PAOK Thessaloniki (9:00 p.m.).
It is a meeting under a very high tension. It has already climbed several steps in the last hours on the streets of Marseille before the Conference League quarterfinals between OM and PAOK Thessaloniki (9:00 p.m.). Several clashes broke out in the city center on Wednesday night with Greek fans. The calm apparently returned on Thursday. But the situation remains tense, especially in the La Joliette district.
Several dozen police vehicles
Many PAOK Thessaloniki supporters gathered in front of the Joliette theater, all dressed in black. Some are already very drunk, others are holding wooden bats. An organized fight with Marseille fans is feared and there are several dozen police vehicles at the scene. The prefecture of Bouches-du Rhône classified this meeting as high risk due to the presence of 3,000 opposing fans with good reputations.
According to our information, PAOK had made a written commitment to the Prefecture of Bouches-du Rhône that Greek fans would not go to the city center of Marseille. It was even one of the requirements to accept the arrival of 3,000 PAOK fans. Until Wednesday night, this commitment was not fulfilled, with several hundred Greek fans gathered at a hotel near the La Joliette district. Clashes then broke out when some groups of Greek sympathizers came out and were attacked by ultras from Marseille.
On Wednesday night and today, the local authorities expressed to UEFA and PAOK their incomprehension that Greek fans did not respect the order to avoid the city center. PAOK fans normally meet at an undisclosed location outside of Marseille for a safer, more escorted bus arrival. Police and CRS mobilize to avoid clashes before or after the game.
Various incidents have marred the European career of Jorge Sampaoli’s men this season. The meeting between OM and Galatasaray (0-0) in the Europa League was marred by the launch of projectiles and strong tensions between both sides in the stands. He had even been briefly arrested. UEFA had imposed the closure of the north stand of the Velodrome for the reception of Lazio Roma, on November 4 (2-2).
The reception of the Italians had also been marked by the launch of projectiles in the direction of the field and the brief break in the match. The Conference League round of 16 against Basel was also marked by pre-kickoff incidents between Marseille and Swiss fans at a roundabout near the stadium. Several people had been arrested. Such a scenario is feared again this Thursday.