Violence erupts in stands at Europa Conference League clash with 32 fans injured

Violence erupted in the stands ahead of a Europa Conference League match between Nice and FC Koln on Thursday leaving 32 supporters injured.

Kick off had to be delayed by nearly an hour as police and stadium security attempted to quell the fighting, which saw fans throwing punches, missiles and even flares at each other.

One man was left seriously injured after falling from the second tier of Nice's Allianz Riviera stadium onto the seats below as terrified onlookers ran for cover.

Both clubs immediately released statements via their social media accounts condemning the violence.

"[We] condemn every form of violence in the strongest possible terms," Koln's official Twitter account posted. "We apologise to all the peaceful fans who had made it a football festival up until this point."

Nice's statement read: "[We] condemn in the strongest possible manner the incidents that took place before the match, which began with damage in the city, followed by the forced entry of dozens of hooligans from the area reserved for Cologne supporters into the presidential stand.

"Fortunately, order was eventually restored, allowing the match to go ahead following a decision by the UEFA authorities in agreement with the local authorities, but the shock remains.

"Stunned by this outburst of violence, even though they had done everything possible to welcome the FC Cologne fans in the best possible conditions, OGC Nice expresses its distress for the Nice public, who witnessed and were victims of these incidents and were forced to wait nearly 45 minutes before being allowed to enter their stadium before kick-off."

Koln captain Jonas Hector even came out to address the away fans through the PA system.

"We really want to play the game with you. We also want that game to take place. But we have to say that we do not like to see this," he said.

"We worked damn hard last year and in the playoff. And we would very much like to do this with you and we ask you to keep calm and support us as much as possible."

The game, which incidentally finished 1-1, eventually got underway after riot police managed to break both sets of supporters apart. Steffen Tigges opened the scoring for Koln before Andy Delort's second-half penalty secured a draw.

Around 15,000 Koln fans had travelled to France for the match and taken over the main square in the city during the day.

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