The French sports minister said, on Monday, that Liverpool fans who do not have valid tickets are responsible for the initial crowd problems in the Champions League final, as the problem subsequently exacerbated as local youths attempted to break into the game.
Fan disturbances at the Paris match became a political issue ahead of France’s mid-June parliamentary elections, and the French government hosted an emergency meeting on Monday to discuss fan unrest.
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“What we really have to bear in mind is that what happened first and foremost was this mass gathering of British fans of Liverpool FC, without tickets or with fake tickets,” French Sports Minister Amelie Odea Castera said. In an interview with French radio RTL before the meeting.
“When there are a lot of people at the entrance to the stadium, there will be people trying to make their way through the doors of the Stade de France, and a certain number of young men from the vicinity who were present trying to enter. Mixing with the crowd.”
The match had to be postponed for 35 minutes after police tried to push back people who tried to force their way into the National Stadium without tickets, while some ticket holders complained that they were not allowed in.
French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said more than 100 people had been arrested after the crowd disturbances. He also said that Liverpool had provided their supporters with paper tickets rather than electronic ones, allowing the possibility of what he described as “major fraud on an industrial scale”.
Darmanin said there were 29 arrests around and inside the Stade de France, half of them “British nationals,” he said 77 other arrests in the Paris suburb of Seine-Saint-Denis, which did not include British nationals.
Darmanin added that while the French authorities took steps to prepare for the risks of trouble, they were caught by surprise by local youths who also showed up to cause trouble in the match.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesman said on Monday he was “deeply disappointed” by the way Liverpool football fans were treated.
“The footage from the Stade de France this weekend was very disturbing and very disturbing. We know that many Liverpool fans traveled to Paris at the right time … and we are very disappointed with the way they have been treated,” the spokesman said.
Television footage showed pictures of young men jumping at the stadium gates and fleeing from security to enter the match. A Reuters witness said that riot police injured others outside, including children, with tear gas.
“We need to take all necessary steps to make sure this does not happen again,” Odea Castera said at the start of the meeting.
“The images are unfortunate, they are disturbing because we can clearly see that we are not ready for events like the Olympics,” far-left leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon said on Sunday, while his far-right rival Marine Le Pen called the incident a “humiliation” for France.
Far-right politician Eric Zemmour said the problem was mainly caused by young men from the nearby neighborhood of Seine-Saint-Denis, not by Liverpool fans.
Chris Phelp, Britain’s technology minister, said he was shocked by the images.
“I was horrified to see these pictures of fans, including children and disabled fans, being peppered by the French police,” he said. “And from the pictures I saw, there was no clear justification for this kind of behaviour.”
The chaotic scenes were described as a national embarrassment in France, which is due to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup and the 2024 Olympic Games.
Liverpool chief executive Billy Hogan said the club wanted a “transparent investigation” by UEFA. Britain’s sports minister, Nadine Doris, also urged UEFA to investigate.
Odea Castera said that there were no problems with the Real Madrid fans in Saturday’s match and that the Spanish team managed to control their fans better than Liverpool.
She added that France should nonetheless consider beefing up security measures for high-risk football matches, with more problems erupting on Sunday after Saint-Etienne were relegated from Ligue 1.