The Champions League final between Liverpool and Real Madrid was delayed by over 30 minutes after fans struggled to get into the stadium for kick-off amid chaotic scenes and reports of tear gas being used on supporters at the Stade de France.
Liverpool have called for an investigation after thousands of supporters were held outside in long queues before kick-off, as Uefa said tear gas had been used by police to disperse supporters who were “blocking” entry to the ground after purchasing “fake tickets”.
Liverpool fans were held at security check-points in the hours before the final and there were large pockets of empty seats in the Liverpool end before the original 8:00pm kick-off time.
There were also reports of riot police being called outside the Stade de France and videos on social media showed stadium security using tear gas and pepper spray on Liverpool fans. The Labor MP for Liverpool West Derby lan Byrne tweeted: “I’ve just endured one of the worst experiences in my life. Horrendous security and organization putting lives at risk. Shambolic and I pray no fans have been injured because of the disgraceful lack of organization and expertise.”
The final was initially delayed by 15 minutes before it was pushed back by a further 15 minutes. At the time, Uefa said the decision had been made due to the “late arrival of fans at the stadium”. Liverpool furiously denied those claims as “totally inaccurate”.
Liverpool released a statement during the final, a match the Reds lost to Real Madrid 1-0, which read: “We are hugely disappointed at the stadium entry issues and breakdown of the security perimeter that Liverpool fans faced this evening at Stade de France. This is the greatest match in European football and supporters should not have to experience the scenes we have witnessed tonight. We have officially requested a formal investigation into the causes of these unacceptable issues.”
Some supporters who arrived even three hours before kick-off had still been unable to get in on time. The broadcaster Kelly Cates – the daughter of Liverpool legend Sir Kenny Dalglish – tweeted one hour before kick-off: “Absolutely shambolic at the Stade de France. No way in, no way of knowing which way to go. Stay safe if you’re heading in. It has the potential to be very dangerous.”
Uefa blamed the issues of fans being held outside the stadium due to “fake tickets”. European football’s governing body said: “In the lead-up to the game, the turnstiles at the Liverpool end became blocked by thousands of fans who had purchased fake tickets which did not work in the turnstiles. This created a build-up of fans trying to get in.
“As a result, the kick off was delayed by 35 minutes to allow as many fans as possible with genuine tickets to gain access. As numbers outside the stadium continued to build up after kick off, the police dispersed them with tear gas and forced them away from the stadium. Uefa is sympathetic to those affected by these events and will further review these matters urgently together with the French police and authorities, and with the French Football Federation.”
In a post on Twitter, Gérald Darmanin, Minister of the Interior of France, blamed Liverpool supporters with “counterfeit tickets” and accused English fans of “assaulting” French police. He said: “Thousands of British supporters, without tickets or with counterfeit tickets, forced entry and sometimes assaulted the stewards. Thank you to the very many police forces mobilized this evening in this difficult context.”
France’s national stadium stepped in to host the showpiece after St Petersburg was stripped of the final in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. This is the third time that the Stade de France has hosted the Champions League final but there seemed a distinct lack of organization around this occasion.
The match eventually kicked off at 8:36pm with some empty seats still visible in the Liverpool end. Kick-off followed Uefa’s opening ceremony, which featured the singer Camila Cabello.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.