sport

OM president defends Amalfitano

Marseille president Jose Anigo has defended midfielder Morgan Amalfitano as the fall-out from his clash with PSG's Blaise Matuidi continues.

The players confronted each other in the tunnel at half-time in Saturday's 2-2 draw in "Le Classique" at the Stade Velodrome.

Matuidi had been angered by a first-half challenge in which Amalfitano caught him with an elbow and, when he sought out the OM player during the break to remonstrate with him, Amalfitano responded by slapping the France midfielder.

But Anigo told L'Equipe: "I think we are in danger of exaggerating this affair.

"This was one of the most tranquil Classiques I have experienced in my career. It is a shame it has been reduced to this incident between Morgan and Matuidi.

"It was a push to the face more than a slap, it should not have happened but it is not the most serious thing to happen in French football.

"Morgan is a competitor who occasionally loses the thread during games, but he was provoked. atuidi himself acknowledged that his conduct was perhaps not perfect. And if you have to sanction Morgan, you must also sanction (PSG defender Christophe) Jallet, who said beforehand that they would have to give slaps to Marseille to win the match."

Jallet had said in the build-up to the game: "In the past, OM have often taken the advantage with their physical impact and it has worked. Now it is down to us to get the slaps in."

Anigo continued: "You would have to punish everything that happened in the game, like Matuidi's tackle in the second minute on (Mathieu) Valbuena. We will show that to the disciplinary commission.

"But the key thing is to stop making Morgan a scapegoat, and stop trying to make such a minor incident into an affair of state. Reducing the Classique to this is idiotic."

Should Amalfitano eventually be suspended over the incident, his ban would take effect from Monday, October 29 - two days before the Coupe de la Ligue meeting with PSG.