Fans waiting outside the gates to enter the stadium as kick-off is delayed. Alamy Stock Photo

French sports minister blames Liverpool over final chaos

British MPs have joined calls for a formal investigation.

LAST UPDATE | 30 May 2022

FRANCE’S SPORTS minister on Monday blamed Liverpool over the chaos that marked its Champions League final against Real Madrid in Paris, while expressing regret that tear gas had been used against some supporters.

The French government has faced a barrage of criticism from press and politicians in the UK over police handling of the match on Saturday, which saw thousands of Liverpool fans with tickets struggling to enter.

But French Sports Minister Amelie Oudea-Castera told RTL radio that Liverpool, in contrast to Real Madrid, had failed to properly organise the supporters who came to Paris.

“Liverpool left its supporters on the loose, this is a major difference,” she said.

The minister added that there had been 30,000-40,000 Liverpool fans with fake tickets or without tickets outside the Stade de France.

“We need to see where these fake tickets came from… and how they were produced in such large numbers,” she said.

She said “that the most regrettable aspect of what happened” was that tear gas was used against families and children who came to watch the final.

Oudea-Castera will later Monday chair a meeting of French security and football officials, as well as representatives of European football’s governing body Uefa.

Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin and Paris police chief Didier Lallement will be in attendance.

She insisted that France was capable of hosting major sporting events as Paris prepares to hold the Olympics in 2024 as well as the final of the rugby World Cup in 2023.

“I am not worried, I am very committed that we learn absolutely all the lessons from what happened on Saturday evening to improve everything” ahead of these major events, she said.

The move comes amid concerted calls for an investigation from British MPs amid condemnation of the way the Premier League club’s supporters were treated.

Ian Byrne, the Labour MP for Liverpool West Derby, attended the match in Paris and said he had never 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.”

Merseyside Police observers described the behaviour of the vast majority of supporters as “exemplary”, while their counterparts from the Paris prefecture said some had “employed strong force” in a bid to get into the stadium.

Liverpool, who lost 1-0 to Real Madrid in Paris, said on Saturday night they had “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”.

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries said: “I urge 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 the interests of everyone involved to understand what happened and to learn lessons from these events.”

Additional reporting by AFP

Press Association
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