NICE, France — Nice has completed its first big transfer under Jim Ratcliffe’s ownership, signing Denmark forward Kasper Dolberg from Ajax.
Ajax says it will get 20.5 million euros ($22.7 million) for Dolberg, who was under contract for three more seasons.
Nice, coached by France great Patrick Vieira, missed out on European soccer by placing seventh in the French league last season.
Ratcliffe’s chemical company Ineos completed a takeover of Nice this week. Ineos also owns the cycling team of Tour de France champion Egan Bernal and has tried to buy English club Chelsea.
• Referee stops game for 10 minutes after banners and chants• Incident is latest in a series to have occurred in France
Ratcliffes brother, Bob, was present to see the match held up in the 28th minute by the referee, Clément Turpin, after the stadium announcer inside the Allianz Riviera had twice asked fans to stop making anti-gay chants, which were directed at the French league and began around the 17th minute.
Read more One of the accompanying banners criticised the league for approving more fenced-off sections in stands. Its meaning translated as: More fans in the stands means a more gay stadium. The other banner referred to the takeover by Ratcliffe, who owns the Team Ineos cycling team. In French the term pedale means to pedal but is also used as a derogatory term to describe gay people.
Welcome to the Ineos group: at Nice we also love to pedal, that banner read, and Turpin acted after the supporters showed no sign of desisting. He spoke to both captains, Dante of Nice and Steve Mandanda of Marseille, the former leading his teammates to remonstrate with the offenders. They had little success and the teams returned to the dressing room while Turpin met the managers, Patrick Vieira and André Villas-Boas.
The players returned but there was a delay later when Marseilles Dimitri Payet became the target of missiles as he went to take a corner. Nices Wylan Cyprien told Canal Plus he disagreed with the decision to halt the game. Were not going to stop the game each time some morons do something, he said. Im against all forms of discrimination, [whether its] homophobia or racism, but you shouldnt stop the match for so little. Its ridiculous.
Marseille won the match 2-1, Dario Benedetto opening the scoring shortly after play had resumed and Payet scoring a penalty after Cyprien had equalised from the spot. But the focus will rest on what appears to be a disturbing trend in French football. On 16 August a Ligue 2 match between Nancy and Le Mans was briefly stopped amid homophobic chanting and there were also incidents in last weekends Brest v Reims and Monaco v Nîmes fixtures.