Marseille, France (AP) – Marseille fans have told Patrice Evra he is no longer welcome at the club after the defender kicked a supporter in the head.
Evra was suspended by Marseille on Friday, a day after he confronted a fan and aimed a kick at his head ahead of a Europa League game in Portugal. Evra, who appeared to make light contact with his foot, had shortly before aimed a punch at the same fan.
Fans held aloft two banners criticizing Evra before Sunday’s home match against Caen at Stade Velodrome.
“This Game Is Over,” read one banner in English, mocking Evra’s regular posts on social media where he films himself talking about football and says “I love this game” as he breaks into laughter.
Another banner, in French, read: “Love for the jersey. Respect for supporters. Professionalism. Is that too much to ask?”
Other fans chanted against Evra during the game against Caen, which Marseille won 5-0. One fan with a bullhorn led a long and expletive-laced diatribe.
Still, Evra posted a message on his Instagram social media account praising teammates and claiming that he has backing from the “real” fans.
“Great result tonight well done guys I’m really proud of you … thanks to all real Olympique Marseille fans,” the message on Instagram said. “I’m receiving so much support from them.”
Thursday’s incident before the match against Vitoria caused many other Marseille fans to come down from the stands to try and confront Evra, who was then led away by a teammate.
As the players were warming up before the match, Evra had moved away from the field and toward the away section of Marseille fans where an argument began and then escalated.
The 36-year-old Evra is a controversial and often unpopular figure in French football. He was the captain when France went on strike at training during the 2010 World Cup in South Africa in protest after teammate Nicolas Anelka was sent home. He was given a five-match ban by the French Football Federation.
The reaction to the latest incident was intense, with former national team players and television pundits roundly condemning him.
UEFA said Friday that Evra will be banned for at least one game. Its disciplinary body will meet next Friday to rule on the incident. He also faces further sanctions from Marseille, which has opened an internal investigation.
Although Marseille said it accepted Evra received some “hateful insults” from a group of fans, the club said he could in no way “respond in such an inappropriate manner.”
Evra’s temperament has been an issue in the past. He has clashed verbally with former players — especially Lilian Thuram and Christophe Dugarry — and with television pundits, often mocking some of them with invented names as a pun on their names.
The attack-minded left back’s 81st and last appearance for France was a year ago in a World Cup qualifier against Sweden.
Earlier this season, Evra was heavily criticized in some sections of the media, including by Dugarry, for filming himself offering a bag of food to a homeless person on Marseille’s streets and posting a message asking others what they were doing to help.