Sunday, June 26, 2022

Blaming Liverpool fans for the chaos in the Champions League final is ‘shameful’, says the French politician

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Supporters insist they were not late and used legitimate tickets after being forced into dangerous bottlenecks and pepper-sprayed by riot police

Fans were pepper-sprayed by police, crammed into dangerously confined spaces and made to wait for hours outside the Stade de France ahead of the Reds’ 1-0 defeat by Real Madrid. One of the main gates was closed for nearly an hour, leaving thousands of fans on a thin walkway, including pregnant women and children, caught up in the chaos.

Claims that Liverpool fans were to blame for the distressing scenes leading up to the Champions League final have been angered as Uefa launched an urgent review into the management of the Parisian showpiece.

Despite countless eyewitness accounts to the contrary, France’s Home Secretary Gerald Darmanin tweeted: “Thousands of British ‘supporters’, without tickets or with fake tickets, forced entry and sometimes attacked the stewards. Thank you to the very many police forces who have been mobilized tonight in this difficult context.”

Another French politician, MEP Jerome Riviere, insisted this was a “lie” and urged Darmanin to “apologize to the British for wrongly accusing them and to the French.” for the shameful fake news”.

The kick-off was delayed by more than half an hour – after initially being postponed by 15 minutes – with Uefa citing the “late arrival of the fans” as the reason. Football’s governing body of Europe released another statement, claiming turnstiles were “blocked by thousands of fans who bought fake tickets that didn’t work”.

However, Merseyside Police – which had officers present at the scene – said that “the vast majority of fans behaved in an exemplary manner, arriving at the turnstiles early and queuing as instructed”.

“We know people would have witnessed many disturbing scenes last night and we wish everyone returning home from Paris a safe journey,” they added.

Adding weight to fans’ reports, left-back Andy Robertson revealed he had given a friend a ticket who was then told it was fake.

“You have to have a bit of sympathy because that was thrown at Paris at the last minute with everything that happened with Russia,” Robertson said, referring to the decision to move the final from the Gazprom Arena in St. Petersburg to the Stade de to France in February after the invasion of Ukraine.

“But as a Uefa competition, it’s the biggest game in world football and it should be organized much better. Things like that shouldn’t happen, and the violence used by certain authorities definitely shouldn’t happen either.

“Pretty much all of our families were affected. I can only speak for my family and all I know is that they are all doing well and that is my top priority. I hope all fans are safe.”

Liverpool supporters trust Spirit of Shankly also criticized Uefa’s “extremely dangerous” and “shambolic mismanagement” of the game, accusing them of pushing a “narrative that the fans are to blame”.

“The fans weren’t late,” they said. “Many began to arrive more than two and a half hours before the scheduled kick-off … The failure was due to Uefa, the French authorities or the police.

“French authorities and police also failed to control gangs of local youth before and after the game. Innocent fans were distraught after being attacked, bags stolen and tickets stolen.”

Spirit of Shankly quoted a Merseyside police officer as describing it as “the worst European game I have ever worked or experienced”. On Sunday, Paris police tried to defend their account by posting photos of suspected fake tickets.

Liverpool have officially requested an investigation. “We are extremely disappointed with the stadium access issues and security perimeter collapse faced by Liverpool fans at the Stade de France tonight,” the club said in a statement.

“This is the biggest game in European football and the fans shouldn’t have to live through the scenes we witnessed tonight. We have officially requested a formal investigation into the causes of these unacceptable issues.”

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