Liverpool fans unfairly blamed for Champions League chaos, French Senate report says | liverpool

Liverpool fans were unjustly and wrongly blamed for the chaotic scenes at last season’s Champions League final in Paris for ‘distracting attention’ from the true failure of the state and organisers, according to a report by the French Senate.

The May 28 final against Real Madrid was delayed for more than 30 minutes after French police forcefully detained people trying to enter the Stade de France. Liverpool supporters, including children, were sprayed with tear gas – some were sprayed directly in the face. Scores of Liverpool fans have complained of being pushed around, mugged, nearly run over and pickpocketed in chaotic scenes around the stadium which have been slammed by opposition politicians as a scandal which has seriously damaged the image of France abroad.

The French Senate, after weeks of testimony and questioning from senior ministers and the Paris police chief, concluded in a preliminary report on Wednesday that the chaos was caused by a “chain of events and malfunctions” from different authorities and the French State in the running. until the final and into the night. There had been obvious “flaws” in the preparation and a lack of coordination between the various authorities and organizers, the Senate found.

The report made it clear that it had been unacceptable for the state to initially suggest the chaos was the fault of Liverpool supporters. The Senate says Liverpool supporters were initially ‘unfairly’ blamed by French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin to ‘distract attention from the state’s failure to properly manage the crowds present’ as well as “the state’s inability to curb”. the actions of “several hundred violent and coordinated offenders” who assaulted and robbed fans outside the stadium.

Crucially, the report highlighted intelligence gaps that showed how French police had misjudged Liverpool fans and had a totally outdated view of them. The report found that the match security arrangement was ‘based on a dated view of British fans, reminiscent of the hooligans of the 1980s’. She added that the authorities were therefore approaching the game almost exclusively in terms of “crowd control” of England fans.

The senate found ‘major intelligence gaps’ – noting that on the night of the final there had been ‘an absence of hooligans’ and instead, at French local level, a ‘presence of delinquents in large numbers’ . Between 300 and 400 petty criminals pickedpocketed and assaulted fans before and after the match, according to the report. The senators said this should have been prevented by local French intelligence services, as criminals had been seen congregating in the area days before.

How the chaos unfolded around the Champions League final in Paris – video

At a press conference, the senators leading the inquiry said tweets by the French interior minister overnight – in which he suggested the reasons for the chaos were the massive number of Liverpool supporters and the very large number of counterfeits – “did not correspond to the truth” and was a “partial and imprecise analysis”.

Centrist senator Laurent Lafon later told a French radio station, France Inter, that the number of Liverpool supporters was “not the cause” of the malfunction, which was instead due to poorly coordinated administrative decisions and poor planning. .

Lafon also told a Senate press conference that he would say to Liverpool supporters today: “We make our regrets and apologies clear for what happened.”

Lafon said Liverpool fans were “really the victims of what happened”. He said there was now a diplomatic imperative for French President Emmanuel Macron and French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne to acknowledge this and “send a message to the onlookers and authorities” in the UK.

The Senate report concluded: “The political will to make the presence of British supporters appear as the sole cause of the chaos at the Stade de France – which was perhaps intended to mask poor organizational choices – is by no means acceptable.”

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    The senate found that there had been no anticipation of supporter transport flows overnight, and the decision to carry out ticket validity checks at pre-screening security points near the stadium had leads to blocked and overcrowded checkpoints. This was partly because the police were using blocking tactics designed for counter-terrorism operations.

    Officials had revealed during Senate questioning that two French police officers were being investigated for the disproportionate use of tear gas against Liverpool supporters. The report revealed that police used tear gas in an attempt to push back the crowd. He said: “This method, which affects those present, beyond those who are targeted, appeared particularly aggressive towards supporters coming from countries where it is not practiced.” The report said the tear gas “contributed to making supporters feel that excessive force, even police brutality, had been used against them”.

    The report made several recommendations for the organization of future sporting events, including better ticketing procedures, better steward training and co-ordination between stewards and the police.

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