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Corsicans allege discrimination by French league
The head of the French territory of Corsica has accused France's football authorities of suffering from "a form of Corso-phobia", as the fallout from a brawl during a match between Corsican outfit Bastia and Lens deepens.
An outbreak of violence during the clubs' second division fixture on October 15 prompted the French Football League (LFP) to provisionally close Bastia's Furiani stadium.
Before the LFP had even decided to investigate the matter, its president Frederic Thiriez said there were "numerous holes in (Bastia's) organisation and security during the match" and also referred to other incidents earlier in the season.
Thiriez's comments, lambasted by several other leading Corsican officials, led Corsican nationalists to accuse the LFP of racism.
On Thursday Paul Giacobbi -- the president of the Corsica Territorial Assembly (CTC) and a lawmaker on the island -- weighed in by accusing Thiriez of discrimination.
"Incidents of a very extreme nature have occurred at other stadiums around France and none have prompted such scathing comments from the country's highest football official," said Giacobbi.
Giaccobi claimed that "the goal sought by this eminent lawyer (Thiriez) is financial", and that Thiriez wants to prevent Bastia from "keeping pace with much wealthier clubs and playing a leading role in the league."
He pledged to speak to the French Minister for Sport, former judoka champion David Douillet, to complain about "the attitude and the clear desire (of Thiriez) to work against the interests of the Corsican club."
Bastia failed in an appeal to overturn an LFP ban on matches being played at Bastia's home ground, and their next league match - against Arles-Avignon - is to be played in Creteil on the outskirts of Paris.
Giacobbi is not the first politician on the island -- some of whose inhabitants are in favour of independence from France -- to blast the League.
Last week, Jean-Philippe Antolini, spokesman for the separatist Corsica Libera party, stated that "Frederic Thiriez systematically talks about Corsica with hatred ... he judged and condemned Bastia without knowing anything about what happened."
The regional assembly for the Haute-Corse region also voted in favour of a motion supporting Bastia and rejecting the declarations made by Thiriez.
Three players -- Gilles Cioni of Bastia and Lens duo Gabriel Cichero and Samba Sow of Lens -- were sent-off towards the end of the 2-2 draw.
As the players made their way off the pitch, fighting continued in the tunnel, and Cichero -- a Venezuelan international defender -- is alleged to have kicked Bastia director Alain Seghi in the face, breaking his nose, cheekbone and eye-socket.
Cichero has since been banned from action pending the outcome of an investigation into his conduct.
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