French authorities hand Joseph Okumu and co relief ahead of Nice clash

Joseph Okumu has been solid as a rock for Stade Reims, which has put the French side in a Ligue 1 title race.

STARS ABROAD French authorities hand Joseph Okumu and co relief ahead of Nice clash

Joel Omotto 18:08 - 09.12.2023

Joseph Okumu and his Reims team-mates will have their supporters in attendance during Sunday's Ligue 1 clash away to Nice after authorities lifted an earlier ban

Harambee Stars defender Joseph Okumu and his Stade de Reims team-mates will enjoy the support of their fans during their Ligue 1 clash away to OGC Nice after the French government lifted an earlier ban.

Authorities in France had banned away fans from attending four matches, including two in the top-tier of the French league this weekend, after classifying them as ‘high risk’ following the death of a supporter in Nantes last weekend.

Lyon fans were not allowed to attend Wednesday’s 3-0 loss at Marseille and Lens supporters were banned from travelling to Friday’s match in Montpellier while Reims supporters were also set to be barred from travelling to the Allianz Riviera for the clash with Nice on Sunday until the government’s U-turn.

Reims had confirmed the development to their fans, telling them that they will get a refund for tickets purchased ahead of Sunday’s match but the club has now changed the stance following the latest development.

“By decision of the Council of State which lifted the travel ban, Reims supporters will be able to go to Nice this Sunday. Tickets can be purchased directly at the Allianz Riviera visitor counter,” the club said on Saturday.

The change is down to a legal challenge launched by fan groups on Friday in a bid to have the bans overturned.

The National Supporters’ Association said Friday it had referred the matter to France’s highest administrative court as it sought to challenge bans targeting the four matches and they seem to have born fruit.

France Sports Minister Amelie Oudea-Castera said this week that preventing supporters from traveling to rival clubs could help to restore calm following a series of incidents this season.

In France, traveling fans are regularly banned from high-risk games such as those pitting together bitter rivals Paris Saint-Germain and Marseille. But Oudea-Castera suggested the measure could be used more often.

Reims face a big test against second-placed Nice who are looking to bounce back from last week’s 1-0 defeat to Nantes but Will Still’s men will be encouraged by their recent good record which has seen them win their last two games on the trot.

Okumu, who had an impressive game in a three-man defence as his side recorded a 2-1 win over Strasbourg last week, will likely start again with sixth-placed Reims seeking to close in on the top four.

The Kenyan defender was rated Reims’ second-best player last weekend with only Danish forward Mohamed Daramy getting a higher rating after his goal and assist.

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