Saint-Etienne

Following the club’s relegation from Ligue 1, fans flooded the pitch, committing “acts of violence” against players and police, according to Saint-Etienne.

The Rhone-based team was in a play-off against Ligue 2 side Auxerre, with the winner advancing to Ligue 1 next season.

After a 2-2 draw on aggregate, Saint-Etienne lost in a penalty shootout, with hundreds of fans rushing to the ground shortly after Auxerre’s winning spot shot.

Flares were carried by many, and dozens of pyrotechnics were let off. Both teams’ players were mobbed and had to be escorted off the field by security personnel.

Tear gas was deployed by police in riot gear to evacuate the field.

Saint-Etienne’s 18-year tenure in France’s top-flight comes to an end with this outcome. The team has a joint record of ten first-division titles, but will be playing in Ligue 2 next season.

A Saint-Etienne statement read: “Despite an exceptional and reinforced plan of nearly 500 officers, many supporters invaded the pitch at the final whistle of the match against AJ Auxerre.

“Some were then guilty of several degradations and acts of violence towards the players, the security agents, the police, and the public of the Pierre-Faurand stand.

“ASSE strongly condemns these acts, gives its full support to those affected, and will initiate the necessary legal proceedings.”

This season, Saint-Etienne has already earned multiple sanctions for supporter behavior, with one stand being closed for Sunday’s match following violence during a game against Monaco last month.

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