European football governing body Uefa has blamed “fake tickets which didn’t work in turnstiles” for a 35-minute delay to Saturday’s Champions League final between Liverpool and Real Madrid in Paris. But the English club has called for an investigation into the “unacceptable” way its fans were treated.
The final of Europe’s most prestigious club competition was due to kick off at 21:00 CET but the match at the Stade de France in Paris did not begin until 21:36, with Real Madrid beating Liverpool 1-0.
Uefa said it was pushed back due to “security reasons” with queues of mainly Liverpool fans who could not get into the ground.
“In the lead-up to the game, the turnstiles at the Liverpool end became blocked by thousands of fans who had purchased fake tickets which did not work in the turnstiles,” UEFA said in a statement.
“This created a build-up of fans trying to get in.”
French police had urged fans not to force entry, sending tweets some 20 minutes before the game was due to begin.
'Not a nice final'
Some of the supporters with valid tickets did not get into the ground until the end of the first half.
Police fired tear gas after several dozen people tried to climb over security barriers.
Liverpool defender Andy Robertson told the BBC the organisation of the match was “a shambles”.
A friend to whom he'd given a ticket had been denied entry.
"One of my mates got told it was a fake which I assure you it wasn't," he said.
"It was horrendous for our fans and all families that have been through it as well. It wasn't a nice experience, not a nice final to come to. The Champions League should be a celebration but it wasn't that."
Merseyside Police said in a statement that there were "distressing scenes at the match," where its officers were deployed.
The force insisted "the vast majority of fans behaved in an exemplary manner".
"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," the Anfield club said in a statement.
"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."
French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin, however, pointed the finger squarely at the Liverpool fans.
"Thousands of British 'supporters', without any ticket or with fake ones have forced their way in and, at times, used violence again stadium staff," Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said on Twitter, thanking French police.
"The attempts at intrusion and fraud by thousands of English supporters complicated the work of the stadium staff and police but will not tarnish this victory," Sports minister Amelie Oudea-Castera tweeted.
The French interior ministry said 105 people had been detained, of whom 39 were placed under arrest and remanded in custody meaning they could face charges.
Police said they were able to disperse fans "without difficulty".
'Not a threat'
But several Liverpool fans who received pepper spray and tear gas expressed outrage.
“I’m really stressed, I’m a teacher, I never got pepper sprayed," Pete Blades told AFP after the match.
“I haven’t done anything wrong, I’m not a threat. The police pushed me at the door, that wasn’t necessary, a girl’s nose was bleeding. They were expecting an army against them.
“I’m so angry, France has let itself down,” he added.
UEFA said it was "sympathetic to those affected by these events and will further review these matters urgently together with the French police and authorities, and with the French Football Federation".
Nearly 7,000 police were deployed for the event to deal with between 30,000 and 40,000 Liverpool fans thought to have travelled to Paris without tickets.
A fan zone with a capacity of 44,000 was set up for them on an avenue in the east of the French capital.
French police said early Sunday that they had arrested a ticket tout who had been selling around 50 fake tickets near the Liverpool fan zone.