Beşiktaş chair assures safety of Lyon fans in Europa League aggregate

FRENCH PRESS AGENCY - AFP
ISTANBUL
Published 15.04.2017 16:00
Updated 15.04.2017 16:02
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Turkish side Beşiktaş on Saturday told France's Lyon they had nothing to fear from the Istanbul return leg of their Europa League quarter-final after ugly clashes marred the tie in France.

The first leg match on Thursday in Lyon was scarred by violence and a pitch invasion, with European football's governing body UEFA opening an inquiry.

Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas expressed fear for the safety of his team and fans in Thursday's return leg in Istanbul and raised the possibility of the tie being played behind closed doors.

But Beşiktaş chairman Fikret Orman said that Lyon had nothing to be scared of at Beşiktaş' waterside stadium on the shores of the Bosporus, distancing the club's fans from responsibility in the violence.

"Here is our home," he said at a club meeting inside the Vodafone Arena stadium.

"Don't be afraid. We are everyone's defender so come here and watch the match in a really nice way."

"We will take pleasure hosting them (Lyon) here," he added.

He implied it was outside forces, rather than travelling Beşiktaş fans, who had been behind the trouble. "They are trying to put on us all the blame of misbehavior by the fans," he said.

Orman said that the team would give the "necessary response" -- but on the pitch.

Lyon were hit with four charges by UEFA, including "insufficient organization" concerning the segregation of supporters, while Beşiktaş were charged with throwing projectiles and crowd disturbances.

Lyon's deputy chief legal director Vincent Ponsot said on Friday "it's clear we were victims of aggression from Turkish supporters."

But Beşiktaş have said the troubles were Lyon's responsibility as home side.

Lyon won the game 2-1, leaving all at stake for a tense return encounter for a place in the semi-finals.

Turkish football has been notorious for giving hostile welcomes to visiting foreign teams notably the November 1993 clash between Istanbul's Galatasaray and Manchester United when Turkish fans welcomed the English team with "Welcome to Hell" banners.

But the Turkish football authorities would like to think standards of fan behavior have improved considerably since then.

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