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Barthez quits Nantes over safety fears

30 April 2007 16:16

NANTES, France (AFP) - France's World Cup-winning goalkeeper Fabien Barthez has quit his club Nantes for safety reasons following a violent post-match run-in with a group of disgruntled supporters.

"I'm not going to play for Nantes again. I don't feel ready to live like that," said the 87-time capped keeper who arrived at Nantes during the winter transfer window.

"I don't feel safe there and I'd just prefer to leave."

Basement side Nantes succumbed to a 2-0 home defeat to Rennes on Saturday, and after just five minutes into the match, Barthez became the target of insults from certain sections of the Nantes support.

Five supporters accosted him in the stadium car park after the game, insulting him and then attacking his car as he tried to drive away from the scene.

Barthez was forced to fight back as one of his assailants tried to pull him from the driver's seat.

"It's got nothing to do with the football or the results," Barthez told France Info radio. "What happened goes beyond the sporting realm... and without that I would have stayed with Nantes until the end."

He added: "I accepted being whistled throughout a match because that's part of the game."

Barthez, 35, has been unsettled since joining Nantes in January and been accused on several occasions of feigning injury to avoid training.

In his 14 matches with the club, the former Marseille and Manchester United keeper has conceded 23 goals.

Barthez's agent Jean-Marie Cantona said it was too early to talk about whether the much-decorated keeper would play on.

"It's too early to talk about that," Cantona told AFP. "For the moment, he's focused on his family, taking some time off with his family in the southwest (of France) and will stay there for some time."

Nantes moved immediately to cancel Barthez's contract.

"Given the incidents that occurred after the Nantes v Rennes match of April 28, Fabien Barthez asked to break his contract sine die. FC Nantes-Atlantique understands and accepts this request," the club said.

"Given the good relations that the club enjoys with its goalkeeper, it has been decided to break the contract in an amicable way as from now."

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