Uefa Liverpool final: String of errors in French handling, says reporton July 13, 2022 at 10:52 am

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A French Senate inquiry finds Liverpool fans were unfairly blamed for the failings at the stadium.

Liverpool fans were initially blamed for the authorities' failures to handle large crowds arriving at the stadiumImage source, REUTERS

A French inquiry into the security fiasco at the Uefa Champions League final in Paris in May has found that it was caused by a string of administrative errors and failings.

The French government initially blamed Liverpool fans and fake tickets for the crowd chaos that led to supporters being tear-gassed and robbed.

But a Senate report has found authorities blamed them unfairly.

Dysfunctional mistakes were made at every level, it said.

Two Senate committees investigated what went wrong on the night of the Champions League final between Liverpool and Real Madrid on 28 May, taking evidence from Liverpool fan and club representatives as well as French officials.

Liverpool fans have told the BBC that the problems were caused by digital tickets not working properly on the night, leading to problems at the turnstiles. A rail strike made things worse leading to bottlenecks as supporters arrived for the match.

As well as being tear-gassed outside the ground, fans were robbed and assaulted by local troublemakers. It then emerged that CCTV footage had been wiped a week later because no request had been made to save it.

Laurent Lafon, one of the inquiry’s two chairmen, spoke of a dysfunctional chain of events and failings in preparation: “Everyone went their own way without there being any real co-ordination.”

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In evidence to the Senate committee last month, Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin admitted things could have been better organised and apologised for the “disproportionate” use of tear gas. But he maintained Liverpool fans were largely to blame. He had earlier complained that 30,000-40,000 Liverpool fans had arrived at the stadium either with no tickets at all or with forgeries. Uefa made clear there had actually been 2,700 fake tickets on the night.

The shocking scenes outside the stadium came as an embarrassment to the government ahead of June parliamentary elections and as France plans for the 2023 Rugby World Cup and 2024 Paris Olympics. Local authorities had little time to prepare for the May final, after it was moved from St Petersburg because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Ahead of the Senate report, co-chairman Jean-Noël Buffet accused Mr Darmanin of lying: “In the aftermath he was spouting rubbish – that’s what inflamed the situation. Had he admitted mistakes and apologised there wouldn’t have been an issue.”

Mr Darmanin has since apologised to supporters for what happened outside the stadium.

Timeline of the day's events
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