2022 – French minister says fake tickets on an ‘industrial scale’ cause chaos in Paris Champions League

France’s interior minister said he regretted the “disorderly reception” Liverpool fans received in Saturday’s Champions League final, but blamed the sale of fake tickets on an “industrial scale” for chaotic scenes at the Stade de France.

“We regret the lack of organization when welcoming the English fans,” Gerald Darmanen said at a press conference on Monday. But he said 30,000 to 40,000 Liverpool fans attended the match either without tickets or with fake tickets.

When a Downing Street spokesman on Saturday described the scenes as “extremely disturbing and disturbing” and called for a full investigation, Darmanin said the fact that Liverpool fans were getting paper rather than digital tickets amounted to a “major, industrial and organized fraud”. Possibly with fake tickets.

The European Football Association (UEFA) announced on Monday evening that it had commissioned an independent report on events that would “examine the decision-making, responsibility and behavior of all bodies participating in the final”. It will be presented by Dr. Thiago Brandao Rodriguez, Member of the Portuguese Parliament and former Member of the Foundation Board of the World Anti-Doping Agency.

The French interior minister said about 70% of tickets submitted by about 62,000 Liverpool fans were fake, and while 97% of Real Madrid fans had reached their seats by 9pm, only 50% of Liverpool fans had made it to their stands by then. . Liverpool got 19,618 tickets.

“Obviously, this type of incident seems to only happen in some English clubs,” Darmanin said, noting that there were difficulties in the 2019 Liverpool-Tottenham Champions League final in Madrid and matches at Wembley Stadium.

The game eventually started 36 minutes late, with some ticket holders complaining that they were not allowed in. Darmanin admitted that police were surprised by the 300-400 youths from the region who had turned up to foment the unrest, but said France had only three months to prepare after the match was moved from St Petersburg.

Television footage showed pictures of young men, apparently not wearing the colors of Liverpool, climbing over the stadium walls and jumping over it. Other fans outside, including families with children, were tear gassed by riot police. Liverpool chief executive Billy Hogan said the treatment of the fans was “unacceptable”.

French Sports Minister Amelie Odea Castera said France had realized “we need to improve the organization of these challenging matches”, including through better management of fan flows from local broadcasters to the stadium, and the nomination and issuance of digital tickets.

The minister told French radio earlier, after meeting with officials and representatives of the police, local and regional government, the European Football Association, the French Football Federation and the stadium management, that the problems were exacerbated by the lack of referees and the checkpoints that were very narrow outside the stadium. event site.

She also said that Liverpool should bear some responsibility, claiming that Real Madrid “organized the arrival of its fans with hired coaches, unlike Liverpool who left their fans to their own devices.”

A Johnson spokesman said: “We know that many Liverpool fans traveled to Paris in time to support their team in one of the biggest matches of the season and we are very disappointed with the way they have been treated. The fans deserve to know what happened, so we urge UEFA to act. closely with the French authorities in a full investigation and publication of their findings.”

The spokesman said the No. 10 player did not agree with the arguments blaming Liverpool fans for their late arrival. “Since Saturday, we have clearly seen reports of fans who have obtained authorized tickets from the club and have not been able to enter the stadium,” he said.

Liverpool fans stuck outside the Stade de France display their playing cards. Photo: Adam Davey/PA

“We have seen statements from UEFA also claiming that the delay in kick-off was due to the late arrival of the fans. This does not correspond to the experience of many who are standing in front of the stadium.”

The official statement of the European Football Association (UEFA) did not mention the delay of the fans, and it is understood that no message was broadcast on the big screen in the stadium attributing the delay in kick-off to the “delayed arrival of the fans”. The message has been changed to state that a “security issue” was behind the late launch.

French media and commentators have described the scenes as a national embarrassment as France prepares to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup and the 2024 Olympic Games. Oudéa-Castéra said she remains confident in France’s ability to host major events, noting that since its opening in 1998, the Stade de France has hosted the Stade de France. Countless international football and rugby players, track and field competitions and rock concerts at full capacity without serious incidents.

Ronan Evin of the Football Supporters Europe Team, which is accredited as an observer for UEFA matches, said the organization was “inflexible” and argued that “France’s approach to managing fans has always been that of a show of force, behind the rest of France and Europe.” .

Paris police chief Didier Lalmente said in a report that there were “significant deficiencies” in the way organizers dealt with Liverpool fans.

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He also blamed the problems on a strike on one of the two RER light rail lines running from Paris to the stadium and acknowledged that there were very few police forces on the field, indicating that 18 units were preferred over 10 in service. .

The police chief’s report, which was reported by French media, said the use of tear gas was “unfortunately necessary” at some points “to maintain the stadium’s inviolability”, although he apologized “sincerely” for the “discomfort felt by many spectators”. . I apologize.