Champions League Final: Chaos As Match Starts 30 Minutes Late
With the kick-off delayed by more than half an hour, security staff struggled to deal with ticketing issues and crowds during this week’s Champions League final, which saw Real Madrid win the cup.
UEFA and French ministers have blamed fans at the UK end of the stadium for the delayed kick-off, which saw last Saturday´s Champions League final start over thirty minutes late, despite the British police stating that Red supporters showed “exemplary” behaviour.
Liverpool FC has called for an investigation after its supporters were repeatedly subjected to violence, with police using tear gas to control crowds. The approach has been called “aggressive” and “concerning” by Cabinet Minister Brandon Lewis. Meanwhile, a Liverpool player says a club-issued ticket was dismissed as fake, adding confusion.
Security struggled to cope and was overwhelmed by crowds at the Stade de France last Saturday as many supporters were left outside for hours. Others were only admitted during halftime due to a “fake ticket” fiasco. Personal friend to Liverpool wing-back Andy Robertson was accused of having a fake ticket despite being club-issued. Robertson commented that the ticket was procured through him and was not fake, adding that as one of the biggest games in the football world, the game should have been organised much better.
Fellow Liverpool defender Joel Matip’s brother and pregnant sister-in-law were also reported fleeing the scene due to the chaos and heavy-handed approach to crowd control. Football legend Sir Kenny Dalglish has said that Liverpool fans are entirely exonerated from bad behaviour and that French authorities should be embarrassed by how they dealt with the situation.
Sixty-eight arrests were made from the fan zones during the event. The French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin blamed those who travelled to the match from the UK, tweeting, “Thousands of British’ fans’, without tickets or fake tickets, tried to force their way in and, sometimes, violated the stewards”. While the French Sports Minister, Amelie Oudea Castera, has condemned UK visitors, saying that thousands of British supporters’ attempts at intrusion and fraud compromised the stadium security staff and local police.
UEFA has also blamed UK supporters agreeing that the turnstiles at the Liverpool end of the match became blocked by thousands of supporters trying to enter with counterfeit tickets. This left supporters unable to pass and blocked the entrance to the stadium, preventing legitimate ticket holders from entering.
Despite reports from the French authorities, ministers, and UEFA, who’ve been quick to attribute liability to Liverpool fans, the Merseyside police have supported fans, calling their behaviour “exemplary in shocking circumstances”. Liverpool FC added that UEFA’s comments were completely inaccurate. Others have also commented that this isn’t the first time something like this has happened overseas, and more investigation is warranted.
French officers used batons, riot shields, and tear gas as they moved from gate to gate to prevent fans from forcing their way into the match, leaving supporters and families to choose to stay or run and lose their place in the queue. Liverpool supporters have said the tensions were increased by Parisians who taunted the police during the confusion, detailing scenes of carnage. MERPOL was present at the match, with a spokesperson commenting on Twitter that it was “the worst European match” they had ever worked.
Liverpool FC has released a statement detailing how they are hugely disappointed at the stadium entry issues and breakdown in security, adding that fans should not have experienced the scenes witnessed at the match, especially not during European club football’s biggest occasion. They are requesting a formal investigation into the events.