Bastia official outraged by stadium ban, begins hunger strike | inside World Soccer

A Bastia official has gone on hunger strike after the French club were forbidden to play their home matches in their own stadium following a series of violent incidents.

Jo Bonavita has been working at French club Bastia since 1981
Jo Bonavita has been working at French club Bastia since 1981

Photo: sc-bastia.net

The French Football League's (LFP) Disciplinary Commission decided to close the Stade Armand-Cesari with immediate effect following unsavoury incidents before, during and after Bastia's home game with Olympique Marseille on Wednesday, a match played behind closed doors due to violent incidents at the game at neighbours Ajaccio in October.

Assembled in a car park adjacent to the stadium to watch the Marseille game on a big screen, Bastia fans let off what the commission described in an official statement as "an impressive arsenal" of flares and fireworks throughout the evening of their team's 2-1 defeat, creating "a climate of insecurity around the stadium".

The commission also highlighted Bastia's previous, far-from-unblemished record, with two cases of violence and insults towards match officials from this season still to be examined, and the atmosphere at the stadium of "great insecurity which could put spectators or those involved in the game in danger at any moment" as further reasons for leaving the club with the task of finding another venue to stage their next home match.

Understandably, the news has drawn an angry response from the club, whose ageing employee Jo Bonavita announced he was going on hunger strike until the ban was lifted.

"Outraged by the decision, Jo Bonavita, responsible for the logistics at the club, has decided to start a hunger strike this morning in the light of the sanctions imposed by the LFP," the club said.

The 73-year-old Bonavita is a much-loved figure at Bastia, where he has been working since 1981.

"I will continue my hunger strike until this ban is lifted," Bonavita said.

"The League and (president) Frédéric Thiriez want to destroy Bastia and even if I am 73 years old and a lot of people have warned me of the risks I am running, I will carry on my hunger strike to support all those families whose livelihood depends on the club."

And the players were equally defiant that they would not let the ban damage team morale as the row appeared to divide the country along traditional lines, with the fiercely nationalistic Corsicans lining up against the Paris establishment.

Midfielder Jérôme Rothen added: "We get the impression that Bastia are a thorn in the side of Ligue 1.

"The club and the players will not allow themselves to be destroyed and we'll be a thorn in their side for even longer.

"All they want is to kill the club off. When I played at Paris St Germain, every time we travelled to Marseille, the team bus was pelted with stones.

"Much more serious incidents than those at Furiani occurred during those matches and Marseille never had their stadium closed down."

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