Nice condemned “in the strongest possible sense” a chant sang on Wednesday by supporters mocking Emiliano Sala, the Argentine footballer who died in a 2019 plane crash while flying to Wales to join Cardiff City from Nantes.
“The club does not recognise its values or those of the entire red and black family in this unthinkable and abject provocation by a minority of its supporters,” read a statement after Nice’s 4-2 win over Saint-Etienne in Ligue 1.
“Nice sends its support to the family and friends of Emiliano Sala.”
Sala, 28, and pilot David Ibbotson, 59, died when the single-engined Piper Malibu plane they were travelling in came down in the Channel en route from Nantes, northwest France, to Cardiff.
The forward had signed for Cardiff City, who were then in the Premier League, for a club record £15 million (18 million euros, $19 million) from Nantes in January 2019.
“He’s an Argentine who can’t swim well, Emiliano under water,” a section of fans sang in the ninth minute, when Nantes supporters pay tribute to their former striker. Nice lost the French Cup final 1-0 to Nantes on Saturday.
“I have no words to describe what we heard. Back in the changing rooms, there was no shouting, no joy… but shock,” said Nice coach Christophe Galtier.
“We hear many things in a football stadium. But that, where do insults of a dead footballer come from. Let them stay at home with their bottles and their insults.
“If that’s our society, we’re in trouble.”
The events soured an otherwise good night for Nice, who climbed up to fourth and to within two points of Monaco for the third Champions League spot.
Saint-Etienne led 2-0 at halftime courtesy of goals from Denis Bouanga and Zaydou Youssouf, but Nice turned the game around through a Melvin Bard strike and brace from Andy Delort before Hicham Boudaoui sealed the comeback.
Saint-Etienne remain in the relegation play-off spot with two games to play.
Rennes dropped to fifth after losing 2-1 at Nantes despite going ahead thanks to Flavien Tait. Kalifa Coulibaly equalised for Nantes and Nicolas Pallois, a pallbearer at Sala’s funeral, scored the winner.