Statement from Mayor Joe Anderson re LOSC Lille v Everton FC

Following the recent disturbing scenes in Lille prior to Everton FC’s Europa League fixture, I am grateful to all those supporters who contacted me to share their concerns. I was shocked reading the messages from Everton fans who were clearly shaken by the events that took place whilst in France.

I have had dialogue with Lille Mayor Martine Aubry and Frédéric Paquet, Director General of LOSC Lille FC to obtain their explanation of events and also engaged with Everton FC and Merseyside Police.

Both Mayor Aubry and M. Paquet have condemned the violent, unprovoked attack by known French hooligans on Everton fans which took place in a bar on the Wednesday evening before the match. I am informed that two of the culprits have already been imprisoned and it is hoped that the remainder will soon be brought to justice. We are united in our condemnation of this deplorable behaviour towards Everton fans.

We agreed a number of issues contributed to the shocking incidents in the main square on the Thursday. The reports indicate that the police response was an over-reaction and heavy-handed towards genuine and well-behaved supporters. Despite what appeared to be provocation, I was disappointed to read also that a very small number of Everton fans chose to react to the police. This kind of behaviour is damaging to the reputation of the city and Everton fans. I welcome however the role of Everton FC who are leading the investigation with the French authorities into the events that took place.

I made it clear to Mayor Aubry and M. Paquet that genuine Lille FC supporters will be afforded a warm and friendly welcome to the city for the return leg. I am hopeful that with the efficient support of all the agencies involved in coordinating match-day operations that everyone will enjoy in the best traditions the experience of European football in the city and at Goodison Park tomorrow.

Arising from this, I will be engaging with both football clubs, the police, supporters groups and other authorities to ensure sufficient measures are in place so that all future European fixtures involving our teams are enjoyed in a safe and friendly atmosphere, both at home and away.