Lyon defend president Aulas from coronavirus criticism

AFP
French Football Federation president Noel Le Graet (left) is not happy Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas (right) (AFP Photo/JEAN-SEBASTIEN EVRARD)
French Football Federation president Noel Le Graet (left) is not happy Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas (right) (AFP Photo/JEAN-SEBASTIEN EVRARD)

Lyon (AFP) - In the face of furious criticism, French Ligue 1 outfit Lyon defended their president Jean-Michel Aulas on Sunday, who had suggested wiping out the French season.

Aulas, his club said in a statement, had only envisaged "a hypothesis" when he talked about "a blank season", if Ligue 1 could not completed its fixture because of the coronavirus pandemic.

On Friday, Aulas told Le Monde newspaper: "The most logical thing would be to say: we'll cancel everything and go back to the situation at the start of the season."

That would mean Lyon's great rivals, Paris Saint-Germain, would be deprived of a likely league title, while Lyon, seventh in the table, would become one of the four French qualifiers in next season's Champions League. Marseille, in second, would miss out.

On Saturday, Aulas told French television he "obviously" wanted to end the current campaign.

"I haven't in any way dismissed the chance to finish the championship," he said.

"The question was what would happen if the championship wasn't finished."

Marseille president Jacques-Henri Eyraud joined the hostile reaction in a column for the Journal du Dimanche. He condemned "the obscenity (of an) opportunistic proposal" and "the selfishness of someone whose only compass is his participation in the Champions League".

On Sunday, French Football Federation (FFF) president Noel le Graet told French television the idea was "quite ridiculous, stupid, clumsy and inappropriate to what's happening."

He asked the two club presidents "to calm down and be dignified in their statements, which make no sense and don't make them any bigger."

Lyon responded by defending their president, who is known as JMA.

Their statement condemned "a flood of media coverage around a question taken out of context."

The club said that, "as is often the case, Jean-Michel Aulas has taken the time to dissect the extent of the situation in advance."

Aulas, is a member of the FFF executive committee and the representative of Ligue 1 clubs on the French league (LFP) committee.

The club said on Thursday, he met with the presidents of both organisations "to propose, in the general interest, that the health of the players and all those involved in the competition should be the primary concern."

"It is up to the whole French football family to get together to decide on the best decision to take," said the statement before moving on to the governing bodies of European and world football.

"UEFA's proposals on Tuesday on what will happen to European competitions will be decisive," Lyon said, adding there were issues "concerning international events organised under the aegis of FIFA, with the Tokyo Olympics this summer in the spotlight, while respecting the players' basic right to rest".

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