Liverpool fans unfairly blamed for CL final chaos, French Senate report says
Liverpool fans were unfairly blamed for the chaos that surrounded last season’s Champions League final in Paris to ‘distract attention’ from the failure of organisers, according to a French Senate report.
The Senate has heard from Reds supporters, as well as French police and government officials and UEFA events director Martin Kallen, since the May 28 game, which started with more than half a hour late.
French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin initially blamed delays at the gate for ticketless Liverpool fans for crowds accumulating at the perimeter of the Stade de France, with police also using tear gas on supporters waiting to gain entry.
The interim report of his findings, published on Wednesday, said: “It is unfair to have sought to blame Liverpool supporters for the disturbances, as the Home Secretary did to deflect the attention to the State’s inability to adequately manage the crowds present and to curb the action of several hundred violent and coordinated (local) offenders.
He was greeted by Liverpool chief executive Billy Hogan, who demanded an apology from the French government. Liverpool supporters group Spirit of Shankly have demanded the same plus a full parliamentary inquiry in France.
“I would say I was incredibly encouraged to see one of the senators specifically apologize to Liverpool fans and Real Madrid fans for what happened that night,” Hogan said on the Liverpool official website.
“And I would ask the French government to do the same. Not just to Liverpool and Real Madrid fans, but to both clubs, who had reputational issues coming out of the final and we hope they will apologize where they are deserved.
The report revealed that the chaos was caused by a “chain of events and malfunctions” in the days and hours leading up to kick-off.
He adds: “The systems put in place had major shortcomings with regard to intelligence (absence of hooligans but presence of criminals in large numbers), transport routes for supporters (removal of a drop-off route near the stadium ) and poor communication.
“It is not only in the execution that problems have arisen. Upstream, the crisis scenarios were insufficiently worked out and did not demonstrate the necessary flexibility in the face of so many unforeseen events.
The Senate report says the French authorities must learn the lessons of the “serious collective failure” that has occurred and apply them to the organization of the Rugby World Cup next year and the Olympics in 2024.
The report described UEFA’s handling of the ticketing system as “inadequate” and criticized the lack of training for stewards, who it said were quickly overwhelmed.
UEFA had not put in place a system in advance to detect the extent of forgeries, the Senate found.
The report says the French Football Federation (FFF) has identified 2,471 counterfeit tickets, including 1,644 in the southern area of the stadium dedicated to Liverpool supporters.
He also said that the decision to carry out an initial check of the validity of tickets at the pre-check security points had led to the blocking of the checkpoints.
The Senate recommended the introduction of tamper-proof tickets for these major events and better coordination between stewards and police.
The reduced service of the RER B network put additional pressure on the RER D, which had to deal with 36,000 fans instead of 10 to 15,000.
This, combined with a lack of escape routes at the exit of the RER D station, led to a “crisis situation”, according to the report.
Police were said to have been influenced by a ‘dated view’ of British fans as officers prepared for an influx of hooligans, rather than a plan built around fan enjoyment and ease of access to the venue.
“The reception of the supporters in a festive setting had been neglected”, he specifies.
Security personnel were slow to intervene in acts of theft by local offenders – and to get them out of the stadium forecourt – due to congestion caused by transportation and ticketing issues, according to the report.
The presence of these offenders was said to be “predictable”, but the number of police assigned to the fight against crime was not sufficient.
The report said 209 officers were deployed to cover the possibility of crimes being committed in the final, less than a third of the number on duty for the same purpose during the Nations League game France v Denmark last month. last.
Spirit of Shankly said the chaos around the final represented a “monumental failure” by the French government and UEFA.
He thanked the Senate for welcoming the testimonies of fans and exonerating them from any responsibility, but added: “There remains the problem of persistently repeated lies.
“We want a full apology from the French government with a complete retraction of the lies alleged in their name since May 28, 2022, and we will continue to push to achieve this. We also believe that only a full French parliamentary inquiry, with witnesses testifying under oath, will bring truth and justice and we will continue to press for this.
Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston said: “I welcome the findings of the French Senate inquiry which finally acknowledges the organizational failures that led to the terrifying scenes in Paris and the treatment of Liverpool supporters.
“In meetings with my French counterpart, I called for the investigations to be transparent and for the conclusions to be in line with what the supporters experienced on the pitch.
“With this interim report and the results of UEFA’s independent investigation to follow, lessons must be learned, so that events like these can never happen again.”
UEFA has commissioned an independent review of the events surrounding the final. Preliminary findings from this review are to be released in September.