The Liverpool/Real Madrid Champions League final started more than 30 minutes late due to overflows on the forecourt of the Stade de France and poor organization.
9:00 p.m., 9:15 p.m., 9:30 p.m…. it was finally at 9:36 p.m. that the Champions League final between Liverpool and Real Madrid could begin. The whistle was blown after an interminable wait for supporters in the stadium, viewers of TF1 and the Opening Ceremony mini-concert with Cuban singer Camila Cabello.
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This football festival, for which thousands of English and Spanish supporters had made the trip to Paris, turned into a fiasco near the Stade de France at the start of the evening. The arrival of many supporters resulted in imposing queues to pass the security checks. The fault, according to the Minister of the Interior Gérald Darmanin, to “thousands of British ‘supporters’, without tickets or with counterfeit tickets”.
With @AOC1978, at the Stade de France security headquarters. Thousands of British “supporters”, without tickets or with counterfeit tickets, forced entry and sometimes assaulted the stewards. Thank you to the very many police forces mobilized this evening in this difficult context. pic.twitter.com/gEXCqPhWmZ
— Gérald DARMANIN (@GDarmanin) May 28, 2022
Sports Minister Amélie Oudéa-Castéra also pointed the finger at English supporters in a message on Twitter: “Attempts to intrude and defraud thousands of English supporters have complicated the work of stewards and police forces but do not will not tarnish this victory”.
Cheer @real Madrid for this 14th title in #Champions League ! The attempts of intrusion and fraud by thousands of English fans have complicated the work of stewards and police forces but will not tarnish this victory. Violence has no place in the stadiums.
— Amelie Oudea-Castera (@AOC1978) May 28, 2022
The turnstiles were blocked by thousands of spectators who bought counterfeit tickets that did not work.
In the evening, the organizers of UEFA gave explanations in a press release. “As the match approached kick-off, the turnstiles on the side of the Liverpool stands were blocked by thousands of spectators who bought counterfeit tickets which did not work. This created a backlog of spectators trying to to enter the stadium and as a result, kick-off had to be delayed by 35 minutes to allow as many spectators with valid tickets as possible to enter the stadium”.
The Liverpool club have called for an investigation. “We are extremely disappointed with the access issues and perimeter breaches suffered by Liverpool supporters,” the club wrote in a press release. “It’s the biggest game in European football and fans shouldn’t have to go through the kind of scene we’ve seen.”
Liverpool and Real Madrid were awarded 20,000 tickets each for this Champions League final.
Railings climbed with bare hands
At the same time, dozens of people did not hesitate to climb the imposing gates around the Stade de France and, once inside, to run towards the stairs which lead to the Stade de France to watch the match for free. This situation led to interventions by the police and the mobile gendarmerie who did not hesitate to use tear gas sprays, resulting in the closure of several access points to the Stade de France. The Paris police headquarters had nevertheless mobilized 6,800 police officers, gendarmes and firefighters.
Aficionados del Liverpool están saltando las vallas de seguridad en l’acceso al Stade de France y eso provoca retraso de la final de la Champions League. pic.twitter.com/Fvl4yGlJzB
— Mi Pasion (@MiPasionhn) May 28, 2022
These scuffles penalized spectators who had their tickets and who were in good standing. Liverpool fans were able to enter the Stade de France just before half-time and Karim Benzema’s disallowed goal for Real Madrid.
Olympic boxing champion Estelle Mossely was among the victims of these incidents. She was able to return an hour after the start of the meeting. “I was gassed twice, jostled. A bottle landed near me. What happened at the Stade de France is scandalous. Inadmissible”, says the boxer to the Parisian.
174 injured, 39 in custody
Once the match started, clashes continued on the forecourt of the Fance stadium. The police again had to use tear gas and even charge the violent individuals to disperse them. 174 supporters were slightly injured. Police arrested 68 people, 39 of whom were eventually taken into custody. At the end of the match, the two fan zones were evacuated without incident or damage.
— Prefecture of Police (@prefpolice) May 29, 2022
Worrying 2 years from the Paris Olympics
These scenes of violence have something to question. Since 1998, the Stade de France has hosted many sporting events and concerts. Welcoming and managing a large crowd is an exercise that is mastered. But how could security have been so overwhelmed?
A situation that is cause for concern as the Rugby World Cup from September 8 to October 28, 2023 and the Paris Summer Olympics from July 26 to August 15, 2024 approach.
UEFA promises to carry out an urgent audit with the police, the French authorities and the French Football Federation.