Chaos at Stade de France mars Champions League final

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French police arrested 105 people and placed 39 into custody during the Champions League final between Liverpool and Real Madrid, following chaotic scenes on Saturday at the Stade de France north of Paris that were branded a national embarrassment.

The final between Liverpool and Real Madrid was postponed by over 30 minutes as police used tear gas to try to prevent people who did not have tickets from entering the stadium just north of Paris. Some ticket holders complained that they had only been allowed to enter the stadium for the second half of the match, which Real won 1-0.

The Paris police prefecture said in a statement issued Saturday evening that before the match, “many supporters without tickets for the match or holding false tickets (had) disrupted access to the Stade de France, at the level of the external security perimeter”. The stadium can hold around 80,000 people depending on the event.

European football’s governing body UEFA said fake tickets had caused the issue and that it would investigate further with the French authorities as well as the French Football Federation. UEFA’s statement was welcomed by the UK ambassador to France, Menna Rawlings.

“We need to establish the facts,” Rawlings tweeted, adding her “commiserations” to Liverpool following a “valiant performance.”

laying blame

Liverpool Football Club also issued a statement, saying: “We are hugely disappointed at the stadium entry issues and breakdown of the security perimeter that Liverpool fans faced. We have officially requested a formal investigation into the causes of these unacceptable issues.”

France’s Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin tweeted that the blame lay with British supporters, a noun he qualified with French quotation marks.

“Thousands of British ‘supporters’, without a ticket or with fake ones have forced their way in and, at times, used violence against stadium staff,” Darmanin wrote, thanking French police. His ministry also released a report stating that 105 people had been arrested and 39 taken into police custody on Saturday night during the Champions League final.

Amélie Oudéa-Castéra, France’s minister for sports, the Olympics and the Paralympics, tweeted that “attempts at intrusion and fraud” by Liverpool fans “complicated the work of the stadium staff and police”.

Politicians from all sides called the overall hosting of the final national disgrace. Nicolas Dupont-Aignan, a hard-right former presidential candidate, tweeted “This a shame for France!” While Nathalie Loiseau, a European lawmaker in French President Emmanuel Macron’s party, tweeted: “Scuffles at the Stade de France, brawls in bars, green spaces turned into trash… One observation: we are not ready for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. ”

Ronan Evain, executive director of the Football Supporters Europe network, told AFP that the security issues at the Champions League final raise “the question of France’s ability to organize events of this size”, especially given the fact the country is due to host the next SummerGames. “We are continuing to reproduce the same organizational schemes that have already failed in the past. There is a very strong need to modernize the approach to securing these matches,” he said.

“Farce Stade”

International and French press made scathing remarks. French newspaper Le Monde commented: “The party that was supposed to precede the final … was spoilt and turned into real chaos,” while France’s leading sports daily L’Équipe described it as “from party to fiasco”.

British media, for their part, were more concerned about the serious problems on the sidelines of the match due to the difficulty that fans had in entering the Stade de France. The Sun tabloid had perhaps the most trenchant headline: “Stade de Farce”.

Alfredo Relano, honorary president of the Spanish sports daily AS and a respected voice in Spanish football, wrote a harsh editorial in which he denounced Liverpool and “their hordes of barbarians without tickets” who “created a nameless scandal at the gates of the stadium, which could well have led to a catastrophe, even if everything was fortunately put right with the delay of kick-off.”

Catalan daily SPORTS noted on its front page Sunday that “it is a shame that the final started half an hour late because of the chaos at the stadium gates”.

In contrast to the scenes outside the stadium, Paris police noted that no major incident took place while evacuating the two large fan zones reserved for non-ticketed fans located in the Cours de Vincennes, a major avenue in the east of Paris, and the northern suburb of Saint-Denis, where the State of France is located. More than 30,000 Liverpool supporters had gathered at Cours de Vincennes while 6,000 Real Madrid fans were at the fan zone located in Saint-Denis.

Oudéa-Castéra will chair a meeting on Monday of French security and football officials, as well as representatives of European football’s governing body UEFA.

Interior Minister Darmanin and Paris police chief Didier Lallement will be in attendance.

The sports minister insisted that France was capable of hosting major sporting events as Paris prepares to hold the Olympics in 2024 as well as the final of the rugby World Cup in 2023.


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