From Fireworks In France To Disco Demolitions: The Ugliest Conclusions In Sport

Following on from Nice vs Marseille's abandonment at the weekend, we look at the other sporting events that took a turn for the worst
18:02, 23 Aug 2021

Last night we saw the match between OCG Nice and Marseille abandoned as a result of disgraceful behaviour from the home fans.

The Nice fans threw a bottle at opposition player Dimitri Payet, and it caught him in the face. In retaliation, the French international threw the bottle back and the crowd then surged forward to get to the Marseille players and the unsavoury scenes caused the match to be postponed. 

Following a long delay, the home players returned to the pitch to finish the game but the Marseille players refused to complete the match, causing the game to be abandoned. Today, after shameful events, Ligue de Football Professionel, French football’s governing body, said that both clubs had been summoned to its disciplinary commission on Wednesday.

With everyone being glad to have football stadiums filled with fans again, it was disappointing to see the events that unfolded in this Ligue 1 clash last night as it shows a side of the game that should have been stomped out long ago – and this is not just exclusive to football.

There have been many incidents across history where sport has been soured by confrontations between players and crowds. Here are a few of some of the worst.


Malice at the Palace, 2004

Malice at the Palace
Malice at the Palace

In 2004, an NBA clash between the Indiana Pacers and the Detroit Pistons was etched into the sport’s long and storied history, but for all the wrong reasons. In the dying stages of the game, The Palace of Auburn Hills fell into darkness after Pistons center Ben Wallace reacted badly to a challenge by Ron Artest of the Pacers. 

The incident escalated when a drunken Detroit supporter threw a beer cup at Artest and initiated a huge brawl inside the venue. When all was said and done, the NBA suspended nine players for a total of 146 games, leading to the players losing $11 million in salary. Five players were charged with assault, and eventually sentenced to a year of probation and community service, whilst five fans also faced assault charges and were banned from attending Pistons home games for life.

Alan Minter v Marvin Hagler, 1980

Widely considered one of, if not the lowest moment in boxing, the scenes that followed as Marvin Hagler defeated Alan Minter were shocking. The American did not have the time to celebrate his victory over the Brit at Wembley Arena as the English crowd, who were unhappy at seeing Minter get battered, along with Carlos Berrocal stopping the fight, plunged the venue into chaos. 

The ring was engulfed in beer bottles and cans and Hagler was covered by his corner to protect the new champion. With the help of police, Hagler and his team were taken to safety, his night ruined by the crowd. He vowed that he would never fight in England again after what unfolded.


Chicago White Sox v Detroit Tigers, 1979

Chicago White Sox v Detroit Tigers
Chicago White Sox v Detroit Tigers

This infamous baseball game ended with riot police battering their way through crowds, followed by an explosion that caused serious damage to the field and stands at Comiskey Park. The bizarre cause of this incredible riot: disco.

Disco peaked in the 70s and the explosion, which was the climax of the events that unfolded on this summer day in 1979, was made up of disco records. The riot was incited by rock music listeners who despised disco and they were influenced by anti-disco Chicago DJ Steve Dahl. After the detonation of the vinyl records, thousands of fans stormed the field and had to be dispersed by the riot police. 

This one of the worst days in MLB history and it resulted in the second game between the two sides getting forfeited by the White Sox on the orders of American League President Lee MacPhail.

Maradona and the Copa del Rey riot, 1984

On the day of the Copa del Rey final in 1984, Barcelona squared up against Athletic Bilbao (now Athletic Club) at a time where there was a lot of hatred between the two sides and it escalated at Santiago Bernabeu, the home of Real Madrid, a club despised by both groups of supporters. 

Athletic won the game 1-0 and Diego Maradona, whose ankle was broken by Andoni ‘the Butcher of Bilbao’ Goikoetxea a year prior, was unable to get his revenge - on the pitch, at least. At the full-time whistle, the legendary Argentine saw red, figuratively and literally, when he promptly began to attack the opposition players. 

His first target was a player who did not even come off the bench, Miguel Angel Sola. Maradona knocked him to the floor and then kneed him in the face, knocking him unconscious. At this point a huge melee had begun across the pitch. Maradona led his Barcelona teammates by kung-fu kicking anyone wearing red and white – forcing Athletic players to pause their celebrations and retaliate. 

Riot police were called in to escort the Barcelona players off the pitch, using their shields to block missiles thrown by the Athletic supporters. Maradona, with his shirt ripped, remained in the centre until security came and urged him away. 

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