Blame game in France after ‘chaotic’ Champions League final


Blame game in France after 'chaotic' Champions League final

PARIS (Reuters) – Chaotic scenes at France’s national stadium ahead of and during Saturday night’s Champions League final have been branded a national embarrassment, while French ministers blamed Liverpool fans for the troubles.

The final between Liverpool and Real Madrid started 35 minutes late after police tried to stop people trying to enter the Stade de France without tickets, while some ticket holders complained that they were not allowed in. read more

Television footage showed images of young men, apparently not wearing the red Liverpool shirts, jumping over the stadium gates and running away. Other people outside, including children, were fired at with tear gas by riot police, a Reuters witness said.

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Some riot police rushed into the stadium while others attacked people trying to knock down stadium gates.

European football’s governing body UEFA blamed counterfeit tickets as the cause of the problem and said it would review the events together with French authorities and the French Football Federation, in a statement welcomed by Britain’s Ambassador to Paris Menna Rawlings.

“We need to get the facts straight,” Rawlings tweeted, adding her “sympathy” to Liverpool after a “valiant performance” in the 1-0 loss to Real.

France’s home and sport ministers blame ‘British’ supporters.

“Thousands of British ‘fans’, without tickets or with fake ones, forced their way into the stadium and at times used violence against stadium staff,” Home Secretary Gerald Darmanin said on Twitter, thanking French police.

“The burglary and fraud attempts by thousands of English fans have complicated the work of stadium staff and police but will not spoil this victory,” tweeted Sport Minister Amelie Oudea-Castera.


Liverpool chief executive Billy Hogan said the treatment of their fans was “unacceptable” and the club wanted a “transparent investigation” by UEFA.

“We are committed to ensuring that there is an independent investigation and we as a club will absolutely participate and be cooperative in this,” Hogan said in a video message on Sunday.

“We understand that many different experiences were made over the course of the evening and it is imperative that we hear from supporters.

“We want to make sure we get the facts and make those facts available to the relevant authorities…over the coming days we will put in place a mechanism for supporters to contact us directly.”

British Sports Minister Nadine Dorries has also called on UEFA to launch an investigation.

“The footage and reports from Liverpool fans and the media of their move into the Stade de France last night are deeply concerning,” Dorries said in a statement from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) on Sunday.

“I call on UEFA to launch a formal investigation into what went wrong and why, in coordination with stadium staff, the French Police, the (French Football Federation), Merseyside Police and Liverpool Football Club.”

“It is in everyone’s interest to understand what happened and learn lessons from these events.”

Around 68 people had been arrested by 1:20 a.m. local time on Sunday, while there were 238 interventions by medics for people who suffered very minor injuries, Paris police said in a statement.

UEFA issued a statement late Saturday saying: “In the run-up to the game, the turnstiles at the Liverpool end were blocked by thousands of fans who had bought counterfeit tickets that didn’t work in the turnstiles.”

The scenes in the stadium caused outrage in France, with politicians on all sides calling it a national disgrace.

“It’s a shame for France!” Nicolas Dupont-Aignan, a far-right former presidential candidate, said on Twitter.

Even some in French President Emmanuel Macron’s camp lamented the events that occurred two years before the Paris Olympics.

“Brawls at the Stade de France, brawls in bars, trashed green spaces… One observation: we are not ready for the Paris 2024 Olympics,” Nathalie Loiseau, a European MEP in Macron’s party, said on Twitter.

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Reporting by Michel Rose, Julien Pretot and Fernando Kallas, additional reporting by Manasi Pathak; Editing by Clare Fallon

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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