Champions League final 2022: Downing Street calls for Uefa investigation into Paris chaos



French authorities have blamed “fraud at an industrial level” for scenes of chaos at the Champions League final in Paris despite growing calls – including from Downing Street – for an investigation into the policing of the match.

Real Madrid’s win over Liverpool was overshadowed by the shocking scenes outside the Stade de France in Paris where large numbers of supporters outside the stadium prior to kick-off were targeted with teargas and pepper spray.

Ministers in Paris met to discuss the events before continuing to push responsibility on to Liverpool fans and claims of some 30,000 to 40,000 supporters attempting to access the stadium with fake tickets or no tickets at all.

“There was massive fraud at an industrial level and organization of fake tickets, 70 per cent of tickets were fake tickets coming into the Stade de France,” French interior minister Gerald Darmanin told a press conference.

“More than 2,600 were confirmed by Uefa as non-validated tickets even though they had gone through the first filtering. The massive presence of the fake tickets was the issues which meant there were delays, three times the match was delayed. We had a long meeting where we had exactly the same interpretation with what happened.

“I would like to express our regret with regard to the organization of the final because some people were not able to see the whole of the match. I deplore the errors which took place before.”

The game eventually kicked off 37 minutes late with huge numbers of fans with legitimate tickets still not inside.

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Teargas and pepper spray were used against Liverpool fans – including young children – with Darmanin on Monday defending the tactic.

“I’d like to thank the forces of law and order, also those who worked in the stadium because they were very calm and they were able to avoid drama and so thank you for organizing the pre-filtering but lifting it when there was too a lot of pressure to avoid a drama,” he added. “That was a decision made by the prefecture to avoid any kind of deaths or seriously injured.”

Police use pepper spray on fans outside the Stade de France

(PA)

French sports minister Amelie Oueda-Castera echoed Uefa’s initial statement on the night that supporters arriving late to the ground were to blame for the delays despite many accounts of fans getting there several hours ahead of kick-off.

“We have seen, we have to improve in risky matches certain aspects with regard to managing the flows, first filtering, second filtering, and we have to make sure we look at electronic ticketing as closely as possible so we can avoid fraud as far as ticketing is concerned,” she said. “That is something which is absolutely essential.”

There has been no apology for the conduct of the authorities at the ground.

“We are extremely sorry for all the people whose experience was wasted all that evening,” she added. “For the people who had bought tickets and were unable to attend the match. That’s why we have asked Uefa to really work on a compensation system for those people — 2,700, including British people — so that they get compensation.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson called for an investigation involving both Uefa and French authorities.

A No 10 spokesperson said: “We know many Liverpool fans traveled to Paris in good time to support their team in one of the biggest matches of the season. We’re hugely disappointed by how they were treated. Fans deserve to know what happened. So we’re urging Uefa to work closely with the French authorities on a full investigation and to publish those findings.

“We’ve obviously seen reports since Saturday of fans who were given authorized tickets from the club not being able to gain entry to the stadium that that’s exactly why we need a full investigation into what happened and the findings made public.

“We’ve seen statements from Uefa, which also claim that the delay to kickoff was caused by the late arrival of fans. That doesn’t chime with the experience of many of those standing outside the stadium. So we need a full investigation to get to the bottom of what happened.”

Culture minister Chris Philp said there was “no obvious justification” for French police using pepper spray or teargas.

Liverpool fans stuck outside the ground on Saturday show their match tickets

(PA)

Ian Byrne, the Labor MP for Liverpool West Derby, attended the match in Paris and said he had not witnessed such scenes since the 1989 Hillsborough disaster.

He has written to foreign secretary Liz Truss with a list of seven demands, including a formal probe and apologies, aimed at Uefa and the French authorities.

In his letter, he said: “The French authorities and Uefa are quite simply covering their own backs with this narrative. As a Liverpool fan, I was in Paris for the match and I can honestly say that the situation outside the ground was one of the most horrendous experiences of my life – and as a Hillsborough survivor, I do not make this comment lightly.”

Liverpool have “officially requested a formal investigation into the causes of these unacceptable issues”, while CEO Billy Hogan told LFCTV the treatment of fans was “absolutely unacceptable” and that “people’s safety was put at risk”.

Merseyside Police – who had representatives present on the night – have described the behavior of the vast majority of supporters as “exemplary”.


www.independent.co.uk

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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