Police tear gas fans at Champions League final as Liverpool demand probe

Riot police in the Paris suburb of Saint-Denis repeatedly fired tear gas at Liverpool supporters who had been waiting a long time to reach the Champions League final.

Liverpool FC have called for an investigation after fans of the British club were repeatedly charged with tear gas outside the Stade de France on Saturday.

The start of the match, which Liverpool lost 1-0 to Real Madrid, was delayed by more than half an hour as security struggled to handle the crowd trying to enter the stadium.

The Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), European football’s governing body, and the French authorities appear to blame British supporters, but fans said they were given tear gas “for no reason” and that the fault was entirely with the organisers. and the French police.

UEFA initially blamed the delay in fans’ late arrivals, but in a later statement said turnstiles “on the Liverpool side” of the stadium were blocked as thousands of fans tried to enter the stadium with fake tickets.

“This caused a rush of fans trying to get in,” UEFA said. “As a result, the kick-off was delayed by 35 minutes to allow as many fans as possible with real tickets to enter. While the numbers outside the stadium continued to increase after kick-off, the police dispersed them with tear gas and forced them away from the stadium.”

French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin claimed British fans had forced entry without tickets or with false tickets, and in some cases attacked flight attendants.

“Thousands of British ‘supporters’, with no tickets or with false tickets, have forced the stewards and sometimes attacked the stewards,” he tweeted.

The Paris Prefecture de Police has released a statement of its own saying that people without tickets or with fake tickets “applied strong pressure to enter the fence”, delaying entry for those with tickets.

But Merseyside Police, the British force that covers Liverpool, said in a statement: tweet that the “fan behavior at the turnstiles was exemplary in shocking circumstances.”

Videos posted on social media show police firing tear gas from a security perimeter at people outside the fences. Children were among those who struggled after being hit by eye-irritating chemicals. One video shows a police officer falling to the ground and other officers coming to his aid.

The match eventually started at 9.37pm local time, despite frustrated supporters still trying to enter the Stade de France.

The Associated Press reported that angry Liverpool fans were lined up in rows hung from railings and heard, “Let us in. We’ve got tickets.”

There were also many cases of fans breaking through security and trying to get into the stadium, according to the AP, noting that two fans – including one wearing Liverpool clothes – were wrestled to the ground by stewards and out of the gates. were bundled.

Three others were seen dodging the stewards and sprinting down the hall to the lower level of the stadium. But other people, not wearing clear club clothes, climbed the fences as Liverpool fans yelled at them to get down, the AP reported.

Police fire tear gas at Liverpool fans outside the stadium as they line up ahead of the UEFA Champions League final match between Liverpool FC and Real Madrid at Stade de France on May 28, 2022 in Paris, France.
Matthias Hangst/Getty Images

Liverpool defender Andy Robertson criticized UEFA’s handling of the event and French police for using tear gas on fans. According to the Press Association (PA) news agency, the players’ friends and families were involved in the fight.

He also hit back at claims of fake tickets, saying, “Someone told one of my friends he had a fake ticket, and I assure you it wasn’t because it was clearly through me.”

Others pointed to the Hillsborough disaster, when 97 fans fell in love during the 1989 FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest – followed by Liverpool fans who were accused by the police and the media. wrongly blamed for the tragedy. A 2016 inquest concluded that the dead were wrongfully killed, indicating police failure and that fans had no role in the deaths.

“I’ve been everywhere and never seen anything as bad as this except Hillsborough,” an 82-year-old Liverpool fan said in a video shared by AP correspondent Rob Harris.

“It’s Hillsborough-esque,” said another fan, who said he was separated from his brother. “I almost walked in here in tears. I don’t want to see this European Cup final now. I want to go home.”

Jim Beglin, a former Liverpool defender who is now a commentator, said fans leaving the stadium after the game were attacked and robbed by local ‘gangs’.

“After the game last night was the scariest I’ve ever witnessed. Organized gangs started raiding departing fans,” he tweeted.

“We got a gauntlet of thugs on our way to the subway. Not a police officer in sight. We witnessed so many ambush attacks on unsuspecting people in attendance. Reprehensible @UEFA

Liverpool said it had requested a formal inquiry into the chaos of the security issues.

“We are deeply disappointed with the stadium access issues and the breakdown of the security perimeter that Liverpool fans have faced,” the club said in a statement.

“This is the biggest game in European football and supporters should not see the scenes we saw tonight. We have officially requested a formal investigation into the causes of these unacceptable problems.”

UEFA said it is “sympathetic to those affected by these events and will urgently look into these matters further with the French police and authorities with the French Football Association.”

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