UEFA commissions independent report into Champions League final fans chaos

·4-min read
French police targeted Liverpool fans with pepper spray  (Getty Images)
French police targeted Liverpool fans with pepper spray (Getty Images)

UEFA has commissioned an independent report into the chaos at the Champions League final after ticket fraud and crowd trouble marred the showpiece event in Paris.

“The comprehensive review will examine decision making, responsibility and behaviours of all entities involved in the final,” Europe’s soccer governing body said on Monday.

The announcement comes after French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin was accused of “lying” about the behaviour of Liverpool supporters in Paris as the row about the chaotic Champions League Final exploded into angry recriminations.

Mr Darmanin insisted that “thousands of British supporters” were behind the trouble during the showpiece match against Real Madrid at the Stade de France in Paris on Saturday.

But on Monday, former French presidential candidate Eric Zemmour, leader of France’s Reconquest party, said: “He’s lying”.

Referring to videos of young men breaking into the ground, and assaulting stewards, Mr Zemmour said: “It’s enough to watch 30 seconds of the so-called English supporters to see that they were neither English nor supporters.”

Mr Zemmour instead said that those responsible for the trouble were local “thugs, looters and thieves” from the Paris suburb of Seine-Denis, which surrounds the Stade de France.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Despite this, Mr Darmanin emerged from a crisis meeting in Paris on Monday, and said: “There was massive, industrial and organised fraud.”

He said 2,600 supporters “got through the first police screening leading up to the ground, despite counterfeit tickets.

“The counterfeit tickets are the root evil that caused the postponement of the start of the match.”

Mr Darmanin repeated his attack on Liverpool Football Club, saying: “We noticed that the reception of the British supporters was disorganised, unlike for the Spaniards.

“Between 30,000 and 40,000 [British supporters] found themselves at the Stade de France either, without a ticket or with counterfeit tickets.”

Referring to the Paris rail transport system, Mr Darmanin said: “We had prepared a lot for hooliganism, but we were probably less prepared for crime that took advantage of the chaos of pre-filtering and, to a lesser extent, the RER B transport strikes.”

And in a show of limited contrition, Mr Darmanin said: “There is nothing to be proud of. Sport is always a party, it was ruined because of the delay in the kick-off, the images that we saw, including people stuck in front of the gates and children affected by tear gas. But I want to make it clear that the decisions taken have prevented any deaths.”

Fifteen alleged trouble makers are still in custody following Saturday’s match, but the French authorities have not released any details about their identities, nationalities or profiles. Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp meanwhile joined his club in calling for a full public enquiry, saying their fans had been the victims.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

A club statement reads: “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.”

Mr Darmanin claimed that “half” of the 29 arrested inside the Stade de France for offences including trespass “were British”.

This followed critics saying that young local men were mainly responsible for the trouble, and not English fans.

Mr Darmanin tweeted: “Contrary to allegations and false rumours, of the 29 arrests in the immediate vicinity of the Stade de France, half were British, including 9 for trespassing.”

Mr Darmanin also said about 70% of tickets presented by about 62,000 Liverpool fans were fake.

And whereas 97% of Real Madrid fans had made it to their seats by the original 9pm kick-off time, only 50% of Liverpool supporters had reached their stands by then.

“Manifestly, this kind of incident only seems to happen with certain English clubs,” said Mr Darmanin, noting that there had been difficulties at the Liverpool-Tottenham Champions League final in Madrid in 2019, and at matches at Wembley.

Saturday’s game finally kicked off 36 minutes late, with some ticket holders complaining they were not let in.

Mr Darmanin acknowledged police had been caught off-guard by about 300-400 youths who turned up to cause trouble.

But he said France only had three months to prepare after the game was moved from St Petersburg.

French sports minister Amélie Oudéa-Castéra said her government had requested ‘a very thorough investigation by Uefa into what happened, how and why it happened’.

Ms Oudéa-Castéra said France recognised “we have to improve on the organisation of these tricky matches”, including through better management of fan flows.

She also said Liverpool should bear some responsibility, alleging that Real Madrid “organised their travelling supporters” arrival with chartered coaches.

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