The French government blames the “massive” ticket fraud and the way Liverpool treat its fans for the problems with the public Champions League final against Real Madrid on Sunday†
Most important points:
- Footage shows fans being caught with tickets and denied entry to the stadium
- UEFA, the governing body of European football, has announced an investigation into the matter
- The incident comes ahead of France hosting the Rugby World Cup in 2023 and the Olympics in 2024
While the blame game over the fiasco continued until Tuesday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson described the scenes outside the national stadium – which included some fans, including children, who were treated with tear gas by French police – as deeply disturbing.
French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said Liverpool had given its supporters paper tickets, not electronic ones, enabling what he described as “massive fraud on an industrial scale”.
The minister claimed that more than two-thirds of the tickets offered by some 62,000 Liverpool supporters were fake.
“I want to say again that the decisions made have prevented death or serious injury,” Darmanin told reporters after an emergency meeting on Monday.
The match was delayed more than 35 minutes as police tried to stop people trying to enter the national stadium without tickets. Some cardholders complained that they were not allowed in.
Television footage showed a small number of young men, who did not appear to be wearing red Liverpool jerseys, jumping through the stadium gates and running away from security to get into the match.
But images circulating on social media before and during the match showed thousands of ticket holders, including women and children, queuing for hours outside the Stade de France, with some being given tear gas by riot police as they tried to enter the ground.
Multiple witnesses, including dozens of journalists in Paris before the match, said fans who had tickets trapped by the organizers were led into tight spaces and forced to wait at the gates vacated by stadium staff.
The chaos was especially worrying for Liverpool fans who are still suffering the effects of the Hillsborough disaster, which left 96 supporters dead in a crowd in 1989.
The police, organizers and some major media initially blamed fans for that tragedy, but a 2016 coroner’s report ruled that supporters were “illegitimately killed” as a result of negligent failure by authorities.
UEFA said on Tuesday it ordered an independent report on the events surrounding Sunday’s final.
“The comprehensive review will examine the decision-making, responsibility and behavior of all entities involved in the final,” UEFA said.
Liverpool chief executive Billy Hogan had said the club wanted a “transparent investigation” by the governing body, while also revealing that the club is exploring legal avenues available to fans.
“We have responded in writing to our request for an independent inquiry to UEFA,” Hogan said.
“We have also noted our deep concern about the false information being spread as we urge UEFA to agree to an open and transparent investigation into everything that happened on Saturday night.
“I also read in the media this afternoon that there was a meeting this morning with the French authorities, UEFA, and a number of other stakeholders. However, we were not asked for our input or to provide any information ahead of the meeting.
“We are also reviewing the legal options available to us on behalf of the affected supporters.
“So I would say that all politicians and agencies involved in this event should wait for a full and independent investigation to be completed before attempting to shift blame.”
A spokesman for the British Prime Minister said Johnson was very disappointed with the way Liverpool fans were treated in Paris.
“The images from the Stade de France this weekend were very disturbing and worrying,” said the spokesman.
“We know that many Liverpool fans made it to Paris on time… and we are extremely disappointed with the way they have been treated.”
“We urge UEFA to work closely with the French authorities on a full investigation and to publish those findings.”
Darmanin said there were no problems with Real Madrid supporters during Saturday’s game, most of whom had been given electronic tickets.
He said the Spanish side managed to control its traveling fans better than Liverpool.
He acknowledged that the police were caught off guard by local delinquents who showed up to cause trouble during the match.
But the minister defended existing security protocols, saying France had only three months to prepare after the final was moved from Russia.
Previously, Sports Minister Amelie Oudea-Castera tried to justify France’s use of heavy-handed policing by referring to the crowd chaos that erupted when St. Etienne was relegated from Ligue 1.
Ms Oudea-Castera, who accused Liverpool of leaving fans “into the wild”, has instructed Michel Cadot, inter-ministerial delegate for major sporting events, to write a report within 10 days on what happened in Paris and what lessons should be learned. taken for the management of future events.
Public issues have become a political issue in the run-up to next month’s parliamentary elections, embarrassing France, which will host the Rugby World Cup in 2023 and the Olympics in 2024.
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