Police tear gas fans at Champions League final as Liverpool call for an investigation

Riot police in the Paris suburb of Saint-Denis repeatedly fired tear gas at Liverpool supporters who had endured long waits to advance to the Champions League final.

Liverpool FC have called for an investigation after the British club’s supporters were repeatedly shot at with tear gas outside the Stade de France on Saturday.

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

The Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), the governing body of European football, and French authorities appear to have blamed British fans – but fans said they were tear gassed “without reason” and that the blame lay squarely with them the organizers and French police.

UEFA initially blamed the late arrival of fans for the delay, but said in a later statement that turnstiles “at the Liverpool end” of the stadium were blocked because thousands of fans tried to enter the stadium with fake tickets.

“This resulted in a crowd of fans trying to get in,” UEFA said. “As a result, kick-off was postponed by 35 minutes to allow access for as many fans as possible with real tickets. When the numbers outside the stadium continued to increase after kick-off, the police dispersed them with tear gas and forced them off the stadium.”

French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin claimed British fans without tickets or with fake tickets forced entry and, in some cases, attacked stewards.

“Thousands of British ‘supporters’, without tickets or with fake tickets, forced their way in and sometimes attacked the stewards,” he tweeted.

The Paris Police Prefecture issued a statement of its own, saying people without tickets or with fake tickets were “exercising strong pressure to enter the enclosure” and delaying access for those with tickets.

But Merseyside Police, the British force covering Liverpool, said in a tweet that the “behaviour of the fans at the turnstiles was exemplary under appalling circumstances”.

Videos on social media showed tear gas being fired by police from a security perimeter at people outside the fences. Children were among those who had problems after being hit by eye-irritating chemicals. Video showed a police officer falling to the ground and other officers rushing to his aid.

The game finally got underway at 9.37pm local time, although frustrated fans were still trying to get into the Stade de France.

The Associated Press reported that angry Liverpool fans, stuck in lines, hung on railings and shouted: “Let’s in. We have tickets.”

There have also been many instances of fans breaching security and trying to get into the stadium, the AP said, noting two fans – including one in Liverpool attire – were wrestled to the ground by stewards and bundled out of the gates.

Three others were seen dodging stewards and sprinting across the concourse and into the lowest level of the stadium. But other people, not wearing obvious club attire, climbed the fences as Liverpool fans shouted at them to come down, the AP reported.

Police spray tear gas at Liverpool fans
Police spray tear gas at Liverpool fans outside the stadium as they queue 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 melee.

He also hit back at claims of fake tickets, saying: “Someone told a friend of mine that he had a fake ticket, which I assure you wasn’t because it was obviously mine.”

Others cited the Hillsborough disaster, when 97 fans died in a scrum during the 1989 FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest – followed by Liverpool fans who were wrongly blamed for the tragedy by police and the media . An investigation in 2016 found the dead were unlawfully killed, indicating police failure and that fans played no part in the deaths.

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

“It’s Hillsborough-like,” said another fan, who said he’s been split from his brother. “I almost burst into tears when I came in here. I don’t want to see this European Cup final now. I want to go home.”

Jim Beglin, a former Liverpool defender turned commentator, said fans leaving the stadium after the game were attacked and robbed by local “gangs”.

“The last night after the game was the scariest I have ever experienced. Organized gangs set about robbing departing fans,” he tweeted.

“We ran the gauntlet on our way to the subway. Not a cop in sight. Witnessed so many ambush attacks on unsuspecting participants. Reprehensible @UEFA.”

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

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

“This is the biggest match in European football and the fans should not have to live through the scenes we witnessed tonight. We have officially requested a formal investigation into the causes of these unacceptable problems.”

UEFA said it “has sympathy for those affected by these events and will urgently investigate this matter further together with the French police and authorities and the French Football Federation”.

https://www.newsweek.com/police-fire-tear-gas-champions-league-final-liverpool-fans-slam-uefa-1711185 Police tear gas fans at Champions League final as Liverpool call for an investigation

Rick Schindler

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