Senior French politicians lambast 'state failures' at Champions League final

·3-min read

Top French politicians on Friday condemned the organisation around last month's Champions League final at the Stade de France as a failure of the state.

The showpiece event between Liverpool and Real Madrid was scarred by massive queues, police teargassing spectators including children and gangs of youths assaulting fans.

European football's governing body Uefa blamed Liverpool fans for the 30-minute delay to the start of the game and two French ministers Gérald Darmanin and Amélie Oudéa-Castéra, also pointed the finger at the club's supporters for the chaos.

But a series of inquiries launched in the aftermath of the debacle has instead highlighted serious errors in the marshalling and surveillance of spectators.

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On Friday, senators – members of France's upper house of parliament – pulled no punches in an initial report following nearly two weeks of evidence from politicians and police chiefs.

Laurent Lafon, the boss of the Senate's culture commission, denounced a breakdown of organisation before, during and after the match.

"All those who have failed are linked to the State practically," said Lafon.

"The facts of May 28 are of a rare seriousness, whose consequences could have been dramatic," he added.

Lafon made his comments after a tour of the security headquarters at the Stade de France and the concourse around the arena with Michel Cadot, the government's logistics supremo and François-Noël Buffet, the chairman of the Senate's law commission.

Evidence

The senators say they have based their work on the report Cadot submitted to the Prime Minister, Élisabeth Borne on 10 June.

Under his official title as interdepartmental delegate for major sporting events and the Olympic Games, Cadot's 30-page dossier said there was a series of failures including poor policing.

It also highlighted a breakdown of the control and security system and the poorly controlled influx of people without tickets or with fake tickets.

"Some malfunctions have been identified by Mr Cadot, others not at all," added Lafon.

Cadot's initial report was published as it emerged that hours of video footage of the events on 28 May had been deleted.

"It was at the very least a serious fault," said Buffet. "What worries me is that nobody had the lucidity to say: 'We should keep these images.'"

Buffet added: "The Senate's hearings will continue. We want to hear from Uefa who for the moment don't want to come and give evidence. We also want to hear from supporters."

Lurid images of teargassing, attacks by hordes of criminals, bewilderment and rampant chaos were beamed around the world by TV broadcasters and fans using smartphones.

The stream of personal testimonies countered the bombastic official versions and have undermined French organisational prestige 16 months ahead of the country's hosting of the rugby World Cup and two years before the Olympic Games.

The responses of interior minister Darmanin and sports minister Oudéa-Castéra, have also failed to inspire confidence that lessons could be learned swiftly.

"The impression that has been given is that no one is responsible so no one is guilty," added Lafon.

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