Blame game in France after ‘chaotic’ Champions League final

Blame game in France after ‘chaotic’ Champions League final

PARIS, May 29 (Reuters) – Chaotic scenes at France’s national stadium before and during Saturday night’s Champions League final have been described as a national embarrassment, while French ministers have blamed Liverpool supporters for the troubles .

The final between Liverpool and Real Madrid started with a 35-minute delay after police tried to restrain people trying to force their way into the Stade de France without tickets, while some ticket holders complained of not being allowed to enter. read more

Television footage showed images of young men, who did not appear to be wearing Liverpool’s red shirts, jumping the stadium gates and running away. Other people outside, including children, were gassed by riot police, a Reuters witness said.

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Some riot police stormed into the stadium while others charged at people trying to break down the stadium gates.

European football’s governing body UEFA blamed counterfeit tickets as the source of the problem and said it would look into the events with French authorities and the French Football Federation, in a welcomed statement by the British Ambassador to Paris, Menna Rawlings.

“We have to establish the facts,” Rawlings tweeted, adding his “commissions” to Liverpool after a “valiant performance” in their 1-0 loss to Real.

France’s interior and sports ministers blamed the ‘British’ supporters squarely.

“Thousands of British ‘supporters’, without tickets or with fake tickets, forced their way in and, at times, used violence against stadium staff,” Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin said on Twitter, thanking the French police.

“Attempts to intrude and defraud thousands of English supporters have complicated the work of stadium staff and the police but will not tarnish this victory,” tweeted Sports Minister Amélie Oudéa-Castera.

UEFA INVITED TO INVESTIGATE

Liverpool CEO Billy Hogan said the treatment of his supporters was “unacceptable” and the club wanted a “transparent investigation” from UEFA.

“We are determined to ensure that there is an independent investigation and we as a club will absolutely be part of it and be cooperative,” Hogan said in a video message on Sunday.

“We understand there were a lot of different experiences over the course of the night and it’s imperative that we hear from the supporters.

“We want to make sure we get the facts and provide them to the relevant authorities…over the next few days we will be putting in place a mechanism for supporters to contact us directly.”

UK Sports Minister Nadine Dorries has also urged UEFA to open an investigation.

“The images and stories from Liverpool supporters and the media of their entrance to the Stade de France last night are deeply concerning,” Dorries said in a statement released by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport on Sunday. (DCMS).

“I urge UEFA to launch a formal investigation into what happened and why, in coordination with stadium staff, the French police, the (French football federation), Merseyside police and the club. Liverpool football.”

“It is in the interests of everyone involved to understand what happened and learn from these events.”

Some 68 people were arrested at 1:20 a.m. local time on Sunday, while there were 238 medical interventions for people who were very slightly injured, the Paris police said in a statement.

UEFA issued a statement late on Saturday saying: “During the match, the turnstiles at the Liverpool side were blocked by thousands of supporters who had purchased counterfeit tickets which did not work in the turnstiles.”

The stadium scenes sparked outrage in France, with politicians on all sides calling it a national disgrace.

“It’s a shame for France!” Nicolas Dupont-Aignan, a former far-right presidential candidate, said on Twitter.

Even some in French President Emmanuel Macron’s camp lamented the events, which happened two years before Paris hosted the Olympics.

“Fights at the Stade de France, fights in bars, green spaces transformed into trash cans … One observation: we are not ready for the Paris 2024 Olympics,” said Nathalie Loiseau, MEP from Macron’s party, on Twitter.

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Reporting by Michel Rose, Julien Pretot and Fernando Kallas, additional reporting by Manasi Pathak; Editing by Clare Fallon

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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