Chaos at Champions League final with Liverpool fans caught in crushes


Chaos reigned in Paris as the Champions League final between Liverpool and Real Madrid was delayed 36 minutes amid frightening scenes outside the Stade de France which saw poor organisation result in fans dangerously crushed and then pushed back with pepper spray and tear gas as bottlenecks developed more than two hours before kick-off.

Following on from riotous scenes which ruined the Euro 2020 final at Wembley last summer, UEFA’s organisation was again in spotlight and the blame game began on Saturday night, with French Interior Minister Gerard Darmanin laying the responsibility with ticketless ‘British fans’, apparently unaware or ignoring how the police force’s own disorganisation and ineptitude had started the initial bedlam.

Thousands of Liverpool fans and players families were caught up in crowd crushes, as they found themselves unable to enter the stadium in time for the scheduled kick-off time, while riot police used their tear gas and pepper spray on children and elderly.

German TV reported that Marvin Matip, the brother of Liverpool defender Joel, had to flee with his family and pregnant wife while they tried to get access in the stadium because of tear gas deployed by police. 

Liverpool’s 1981 European Cup match-winner Alan Kennedy, who had to be helped over a fence near the stadium to avoid trouble. Spain’s Minister for Sport José Manuel Franco was caught in the dangerous scenes, confirming that was taking more than an hour to cover the last 100m to the stadium.

Police used tear gas on fans outside of the Champions League final at the Stade de France

Supporters were left packed into tight spaces, creating concerning bottleneck situations

Supporters were left packed into tight spaces, creating concerning bottleneck situations

One fan is pictured being held by police officers and a steward during the unsightly chaos

One fan is pictured being held by police officers and a steward during the unsightly chaos

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UEFA later said that fans with forged tickets in the Liverpool end had caused blockages, because the fake tickets’ barcodes wouldn’t work on turnstiles, causing a back of fans.

Yet the principal initial bottle neck was caused by police parking vans across a wide pavement, reducing it to a 2-3 metre entrance which fans then had to navigate around the vans near Gate X. 

It had nothing to do with forged tickets at that point and was within 50m of the stadium and the Liverpool end. Despite being told a dangerous crush was building up, police said they couldn’t move the vans and were waiting for authority from commanders to do so. 

Fans were pleading with them to alleviate the situation yet to no avail. All this took place at 7pm, two hours before kick off with the vast majority of fans having arrived in good time and were within sight of the Liverpool end.

Officers were caught on camera keeping a close eye on the crowd around the stadium

Officers were caught on camera keeping a close eye on the crowd around the stadium

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The ground inside Paris on Friday was eerily quiet, a stark contrast to the chaos on Saturday

The ground inside Paris on Friday was eerily quiet, a stark contrast to the chaos on Saturday

Later a stadium announcement would claim the match was delayed, blaming the late arrival of supporters. 

That was described as ‘bulls**t’ by TV personality Gary Lineker, who was among the many people trapped ‘I’m not sure it is possible to have a more poorly organised event if you tried,’ he tweeted. ‘Absolutely shambolic and dangerous.’

UEFA will face serious questions after yet another of their showpiece occasions has been blighted. There were violent scenes at last summer’s Euro 2020 final between England and Italy at Wembley, while both their other club finals this month, Rangers v Eintracht Frankfurt in Seville and Roma-Feyenoord in Tirana, have seen crowd trouble. 

After the Euro 2020 chaos, it was assumed that ticketless fans or fans with fake tickets wouldn’t get anywhere near the ground. Yet again, as at Wembley, fans was able to get within a few metres of gates before ticket checks were made, where stewards were them overwhelmed.

The problems started earlier in the evening when traffic delays and exhaustive security checks at the stadium caused over-crowding outside the ground, with many gates and entrances shut and police conducting a kettling operation, funnelling fans in narrow routes.

Because of the build up at the Liverpool end, fans were then forced to walk along a pavement two people wide, which was obstructed by roadworks, to Gate N, which was the opposite end of the ground. 

Tensions spiraled out of control, leading to kick-off at the final being delayed on two occasions

Tensions spiraled out of control, leading to kick-off at the final being delayed on two occasions

The Liverpool end of the ground was visibly quiet as supporters struggling to take their seats

The Liverpool end of the ground was visibly quiet as supporters struggling to take their seats

Walkways and gates into the ground were closed and thousands were corralled into a small area with just one gate open – Gate N. However, it was impossible to get so many people through one narrow gate, the authorities seemingly having closed gates because of fears that fans with forged ticket were inside. 

There were also crushes at Gate A and Gate Y at the Liverpool end.

French interior minister Darmanin blamed ‘thousands of British “supporters”, without tickets or with counterfeit tickets, forced entry and sometimes assaulted the stewards.’

Tweeting from the safety of the security of the operations box in the stadium, he seemed unaware of the situation on the ground and the police’s funnelling of supporters created the initial chaos.

Liverpool issued a statement which read: ‘We are hugely disappointed at the stadium entry issues and break down of the security perimeter that Liverpool fans faced this evening at the Stade de France.

‘This is the greatest match in European football and supporters should not have to experience the scenes we have witnessed tonight.

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‘We have officially requested a formal investigation into the causes of these unacceptable issues.’

A large message announcing that the match was delayed was displayed inside the venue

A large message announcing that the match was delayed was displayed inside the venue

They insisted they had raised security concerns with UEFA before the match and completely rejected UEFA’s assertion that fans had arrived late. 

Some of the supporters, who had paid £125 for a ticket, eventually gave up trying to get in to see their team play in their third Champions League final in five years and the Liverpool end of the ground only filled up shortly before the match eventually kicked off at 8.36pm (9.36pm local time) having meant to start at 8pm.

Up to 80,000 Liverpool fans were estimated to have travelled to Paris, though many of them accepted they would not be able to get tickets for the match in the 71,000-capacity stadium, of which Liverpool were allocated 22,000.

Social media posts depicted scenes of serious congestion, with Liverpool fans barely able to move outside Gate A where they were meant to get in.

At Gate Y, directly behind the Liverpool end, fans including children and the elderly complained of being stuck for two hours being pepper sprayed.

Riot police were deployed after the initial drama in an attempt to restore some order outside

Riot police were deployed after the initial drama in an attempt to restore some order outside

Fans were left waiting at the turnstiles as kick-off rapidly approached in the big showdown

Fans were left waiting at the turnstiles as kick-off rapidly approached in the big showdown

There were also reports of French gangs adding to the confusion by staging attacks on fans. Tear gas continued to be deployed outside the ground during the first half as frustrated fans were unable to get in.

Distressing scenes of Liverpool fans clad in red shirts pressed against the gates with their eyes streaming with a combination of fear and tear gas were broadcast.

One observer, Steve Douglas, tweeted: ‘I got bundled into a hut by a security guard, told to remove accreditation and then forced to delete video footage of the crowd issues otherwise I wouldn’t be allowed in.’ 

The crush was so bad in places fans scrambled onto parked vehicles to keep safe. Police locked down the Stade de France, closing all entry and exit points to the concourse with a Uefa security official saying; ‘For now it’s safer for you inside than outside.’

One reporter claimed that police confiscated his media pass and forced him delete video of them pepper spraying fans before returning it.

Police officers and stewards kept a keen eye on fans as they trickled through security checks

Police officers and stewards kept a keen eye on fans as they trickled through security checks

There was trouble at the fan zone in the centre of Paris with police accused of being heavy-handed by wading into crowds with their truncheons and riot gear.

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Eye witness Marc Ward caught the trouble on camera saying: ‘The French police has just one form of action, aggression and violence. I’ve covered hundreds of events and I don’t think I’ve ever thought they’ve handled something well.’

UEFA tried to keep a veneer of calm by first announcing a delay of 15 minutes for what they called ‘security reasons’, then lengthened to half-an-hour with the finally starting after that.

UEFA’s statement also appeared to want to shift the blame on to fans: ‘In the lead-up to the game, the turnstiles at the Liverpool end became blocked by thousands fans who had purchased fake tickets which did not work in the turnstiles. This created a build-up of fans trying to get in. As a result, the kick off was delayed by 35 minutes to allow as many fans as possible with genuine tickets to gain access.

‘As numbers outside the stadium continued to build up after kick-off, the police dispersed them with tear gas and forced them away from the stadium.

One supporter was pictured visibly frustrated about treatment ahead of the star-studded clash

One supporter was pictured visibly frustrated about treatment ahead of the star-studded clash

‘UEFA is sympathetic to those affected and will further review these matters urgently with the French police and authorities and the French Football Federation.’

It was revealed recently that both Liverpool and Real Madrid received just 20,000 tickets each for the showpiece, despite the venue holding a capacity of 80,000.

RMC claimed that at the entrance to Gate U, several supporters were set to pass through the first screening, before people pushing led to movement in the crowd. That was controlled by the police, but several repeats then took place.

The publication said that any form of filtering had ‘disappeared’.

Another video online showed a line of police officers moving beyond a steady shuffle of people, although the caption alleged that Madrid fans were ‘attacked’.

The Associated Press reported that two fans, one of which was wearing Liverpool attire, were wrestled to the ground by stewards and bundled out the gates.

Another supporter evaded stewards and was seen sprinting through the concourse.

Further footage on social media showed fans climbing over fences, too.

Shortly after, the French police told supporters to ‘not force entry’ at the ground.

Former Liverpool chief executive Peter Moore labelled the scenes as ‘disgraceful’, and dismissed UEFA’s initial claim they were due to the late arrival of fans.





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