Roux facing punishment over 'spitting'

Lille striker Nolan Roux could face a lengthy ban after being sent off for allegedly spitting in the direction of a referee on Saturday.

Roux, 25, was given a red card by official Nicolas Laforge in the second half of Lille’s 2-1 friendly win over Mons in Belgium - a match also marred by crowd violence.

The player has protested his innocence, telling L’Equipe he was “spitting on the ground” when the referee happened to turn around.

Lille, however, have been asked to appear before a French Football Federation (FFF) disciplinary committee on August 2. The panel will decide whether any further action will be taken in the wake of Roux’ dismissal and the behaviour of the travelling support.

The maximum suspension the player could face is nine months and, according to L’Equipe, much depends on what is contained in the referee’s report, which the FFF is due to receive from its Belgian counterpart.

La Voix du Nord, a Lille newspaper, reports that Laforge reiterates in his report that Roux’ actions were intentional.

Lille director general Frederic Paquet defended Roux, telling RMC: "In no way was there a desire to provoke the referee. Nolan is very clear, he wasn't thinking about that at all.

"He wasn't aware that the referee was going in front of him when he spat on the ground. That's what we're going to explain to the French Football Federation's Disciplinary Commission. He's not even downcast about it - he's surprised."

The most high-profile precedent dates from 2005, when goalkeeper Fabien Barthez was suspended after leaving the substitutes’ bench to spit at a referee during an ill-tempered Marseille friendly against Wydad Casablanca.

In that case, the FFF appealed against the verdict of its own disciplinary commission and Barthez’s ban was extended to six months.

Lille also have plenty of headaches off the pitch after what turned out to be a troubled trip north of the border.

Their final friendly, against Portuguese side Pacos de Ferreira, had also been due to take place in Belgium, at the home of Royal Mouscron, on August 3. Following the trouble in Mons at the weekend, however, authorities in Mouscron have decided to cancel the match.

Lille now have to arrange another venue in France, while also hoping they will not be punished for the actions of some of their followers in Mons.

Mons had billed Saturday as a “fan day”, with a match dedicated to their supporters, but things got off to a bad start when a Lille fan was intercepted after encroaching onto the pitch.

According to Sudinfo, both sets of fans traded insults during the game and, after Lille’s victory, smoke bombs were thrown towards the home support.

Around 100 Mons fans then made their way towards the Lille section, forcing police to intervene. One French supporter was arrested.