Sevilla president José Castro has accused French interior minister Gérald Darmanin of an “atrocity” after the French government banned Sevilla fans from traveling to Lens for their Europa League match on Thursday.
Darmanin announced the ban on Sunday, citing security concerns after a series of incidents involving French and Spanish fans in recent years.
Castro said he was “shocked” by the decision, which he said came as a surprise to Sevilla fans who had already bought tickets and flights for the match.
“It is an atrocity that 300 fans who are also not a risk are being banned from traveling to see their team,” Castro said. “They have bought their tickets, their flights, and yesterday, on a Sunday afternoon, in an interview, the French government decides this atrocity.
“We are doing everything in our power with the national government to allow these fans to attend the match.”
Castro said Sevilla had contacted UEFA about the ban, and that they were hopeful of a resolution in the coming hours.
“It is not forbidden for them to travel, and we will work until the last minute, but I cannot guarantee something that does not depend on us,” he said.
“We are trying to understand. Let’s wait and hope that the reason comes back. We have also spoken to UEFA and are waiting for news. The next few hours will be very important to resolve this absurd issue, as it is something that has never happened before.
“Until yesterday, no one had any official news and we all learned about it following an interview with the French minister. There was nothing official to warn these supporters, and it is an atrocity that limits the rights of Europeans, in this case Spaniards.”
The ban has been met with widespread criticism, with many accusing the French government of overreacting.
Lens mayor Arnaud Desbiez said he was “disappointed” by the decision, which he said would “damage the image of France”.
“I am disappointed by this decision, which is not justified,” Desbiez said. “It will damage the image of France and will not help to create a good atmosphere for the match.”
The match is scheduled to kick off at 8pm CET on Thursday.
— Sevilla Fútbol Club (@SevillaFC) December 11, 2023