Balotelli’s abuse and Lyon’s faltering form

Ligue 1

The action in Ligue 1 this weekend was marred somewhat by reports of Mario Balotelli being racially abused by some of the Dijon home support, as Nice lost 3-2.

The former Manchester City and Liverpool striker received a yellow card from referee Nicolas Rainville after complaining about the abuse. The caution has drawn criticism from the anti-discriminatory body Fare – who said they believed that all players should expect referees to act seriously when allegations of racism are made.

The Representative of Black Councils today confirmed that they would be taking legal action against Rainville. Despite this potentially being a step too far, the fact that a booking has been handed out without any consideration or action from the referee to stop the abuse is disgusting.

Racism may never be fully wiped out of the beautiful game, but particularly in this scenario much more could have been done to see that it doesn’t happen again in Ligue 1 for a very long time.

The abuse reportedly happened around the 76th minute, when Balotelli miscued an effort at goal in his side’s 3-2 away defeat. It has perhaps being forgotten about because of the controversy with Balotelli, but Nice have now lost their last three games and are rapidly falling down the league standings.

This season’s final league table is looking set to become the closest in recent memory, and any dropped points are now ruthlessly being punished by sides in similar positions. With battles for Europe and a place in France’s top flight next year still very much at stake, every team will be looking for all important points in every fixture – and it seems Nice are now beginning to suffer from this.

Another talking point from this weekend is Lyon’s recent stuttering form, that has allowed both Monaco and Marseille to move into pole position for automatic European qualification.

Manager Bruno Genesio has come under fire for his stubbornness and refusal to change systems. The concerns from supporters that Lyon only play well when Nabil Fekir is on top form are understandable – and the lack of willpower to see games out while leading will also be worrying.

Despite dominating proceedings, Lyon were two hit from rapid attacks from Rennes, who opened the scoring in the opening ten minutes through ex-Sunderland winger Whabi Khazri.

But Genesio will surely feel aggrieved at a ridiculous, controversial decision from the referee not to award Lyon a penalty in the second half, after a blatant foul on Fekir inside the penalty area. Two Lyon players were then booked for protesting against the decision, as the day went from bad to worse for the home side.

If the spot kick had been given, and then converted, Lyon would have been on level terms and would surely have gone on to find the winner. But instead, deep into stoppage time, Anthony Lopes was picking the ball out of his net for the second time after his parry was slammed home on the rebound by James Lea Siliki.

Whilst the Lyon manager’s position at the helm of the club may not yet be under threat, any failure to mount a strong challenge for second place could see him dismissed – a decision that will likely prove popular among some of the Lyon fanbase.

And for the third week in a row, astounding both pundits and critics alike, Gus Poyet secured another victory as the new manager at Bordeaux.

Before the Uruguayan was hired, the club looked a genuine mess under Jocelyn Gourvennec, with some players in the squad running riot and captain Jeremy Toulalan placing his future in the hands of the board.

But with the departures of Gourvennec and the veteran French midfielder, Bordeaux have lifted the shackles that secured them near the bottom of the league and are showing displays of exciting football. Provided they can continue this positive form until the end of the season, the future looks bright under Poyet with the opportunity to strengthen provided in the summer.

About the Author

Dan Davis
I'm Dan, a 20-year old multimedia journalism student at Bournemouth University. I'm a freelance football writer, and have had work featured for the likes of These Football Times and Outside the Boot.