Champions League: French errors not Liverpool fans to blame for final chaos, inquiry finds

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Liverpool fans wait in front of the of the Stade de France prior the Champions League final soccer match between Liverpool and Real Madrid in Paris, 28 May 2022

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An official French report into chaotic scenes at the UEFA Champions League final in Paris in May has exposed a “series of dysfunctions” by French authorities. 

Liverpool fans who flocked to the stadium, but who could not get in to see their team play, were tear-gassed by French police. A number of Liverpool supporters were also robbed or beaten by local gangs. Video surveillance footage of the attacks was deleted. 

The report by the French Senate’s culture commission is titled “an inevitable fiasco”. Laurent Lafon, the commission’s co-president, outlined a series of failings ahead of the match, saying that authorities acted on their own plans without much coordination — and that there had been “failures” both “in the execution” and in the “preparation” of the event. 

France’s Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin initially blamed Liverpool fans with fake tickets for the chaotic scenes, saying 35,000 supporters had turned up at the Stade de France with counterfeit or unmarked tickets. However senators on the Culture Committee criticised his attitude, saying it “did not allow our committee to fully understand what happened.” 

“It’s not because there were Liverpool supporters who accompanied their team that it went badly,” said Laurent Lafon.

François-Noël Buffet, the report’s other co-president, called Darmanin’s initial analysis “partial and imprecise” which “did not correspond to the truth”. 

“It is unfair to have sought to blame Liverpool fans for the disturbances, as the interior minister did in order to divert attention from the inability of the state to adequately manage the crowds present and to curb the action of several hundred violent and coordinated offenders,” the report said.

One of the main Liverpool fans’ groups, Spirit of Shankly, welcomed the report, while still calling for an apology from the French government.

“The Senate has sent a clear message of support to those supporters who attended the match, calling it a ‘fiasco’ and stating: ‘It was not you who caused the problems at Stade de France’,” the group said in a statement.

“Spirit of Shankly would like to thank the Senate both for welcoming the testimonies of fans and consequently vindicating them from any responsibility. However, there remains the issue of lies being persistently repeated.”

Darmanin has apologised for the “disproportionate” use of tear gas but continued to blame Liverpool fans. 

The official report by lawmakers into the chaotic scenes made 15 recommendations to avoid similar problems in future, including requiring event organisers to retain video surveillance images for one month afterwards; and making it compulsory to use forgery-proof tickets.

Senators said even if there were duplicate tickets being used by the tens of thousands of supporters who showed up, “this failure is due to the decisions taken by the Paris police prefecture.” 

France is also due to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup and the 2024 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games. The report says the “multiple difficulties” encountered at the Stade de France “have seriously questioned France’s capacity to organise major sporting events”.

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