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UEFA and French police blame Liverpool fans for delay to Champions League final – but British police dispute claim

Sky News
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Liverpool FC have called for an investigation following the violence used against its fans before the Champions League final on Saturday night.

Security processes at the Stade de France in Paris appeared to have been overwhelmed by the size of the crowd, leaving many fans waiting outside the ground for hours, with some not being allowed in until half-time.

The beginning of the match between Liverpool and Real Madrid was delayed for more than 30 minutes, with supporters being blamed by European football’s governing body UEFA for arriving late to the stadium. But the Premier League club said that was “totally inaccurate”.

The giant screen informing fans of a delayed kick off ahead of the UEFA Champions League Final at the Stade de France, Paris. Picture date: Saturday May 28, 2022
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A sign in the ground blamed fans for arriving late

Paris police said some fans had turned up without tickets and had delayed access to spectators with tickets. But Merseyside police said “the behaviour of the fans at the turnstiles was exemplary in shocking circumstances”.

French officers with batons and riot shields ran from gate to gate to prevent groups of fans forcing their way into the stadium without showing tickets and officers used tear gas on fans repeatedly.

However, Liverpool supporters said the tensions had been driven by young Parisians, who taunted police and caused the gates to be shut.

The Spanish side won the match 1-0, with Brazilian winger Jose Vinicius Junior scoring the only goal.

More on Liverpool

One fan, Carl Noades, 63, told the PA news agency: “There only seems to be one gate open, it’s ridiculous, the game’s kicked off and we’re stuck outside.

“It’s a disgrace, the way they’re treating us is shocking, there’s no organisation.”

Another fan said: “This will be pinned on us, but it’s nothing to do with us.

“There are hundreds here causing trouble, they’re not even for the game – it’s chaos.”

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Kick off delayed as fans face queues

Liverpool FC said in a statement: “We are hugely disappointed at the stadium entry issues and breakdown of the security perimeter that Liverpool fans faced this evening at Stade de France.

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

“We have officially requested a formal investigation into the causes of these unacceptable issues.”

Liverpool fans struggle to enter the stadium.

UEFA blamed the fans, saying: “In the lead-up to the game, the turnstiles at the Liverpool end became blocked by thousands of 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.

“UEFA is sympathetic to those affected by these events and will further review these matters urgently together with the French police and authorities, and with the French Football Federation.”

Prefecture de Police, the Parisian police force, also blamed fans who had arrived without tickets, saying: “Exerting strong pressure to enter the enclosure, these supporters delayed access to spectators with tickets.

“Taking advantage of this action, a number of people managed to cross the gates protecting the stadium enclosure.

Champions League Final Liverpool v Roma. Fans said police officers used pepper-spray “unprovoked” while they were waiting to get inside the Stade de France
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Police were pictured using tear gas and pepper spray on fans

“The rapid intervention of the police allowed the return to calm and the evacuation of the disturbers outside the forecourt of the Stade de France.

“The dispersal of the spectators takes place without difficulty. No major incident was observed in the two fan zones.”

A Merseyside Police spokesperson said on Twitter: “MERPOL was deployed to this evening’s match.

“Can only describe it as the worst European match I’ve ever worked or experienced.

“I thought the behaviour of the fans at the turnstiles was exemplary in shocking circumstances.

“You were not late 100%.”

Champions League Final Liverpool v Roma. Police at the Stade de France
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Riot police were in attendance

Sky correspondent James Matthews was at the game and said: “It was Liverpool’s biggest night of the season but, whatever happened on the pitch, it was a shambles off it.

“The kick off may have been delayed but, even as it approached half-time, several hundred Liverpool fans were still queuing to get in.

“Many of them showed us their tickets and told how they’d been waiting for more than two hours to gain entry. This, after a long and expensive journey to get here.

“Big football occasions attract large numbers of ticketless opportunists and there was clearly a police effort to weed them out.

“It meant that large groups of supporters were caught up in a robust policing operation that saw groups of officers in riot gear conducting chases around the stadium concourse and using irritant spray and tear gas.

“Liverpool fans were caught up in the chaos and had to endure the irritant – the choice was to run or lose a place in the queue.

“All this on European club football’s biggest occasion – a night which was, for too many, the showpiece that showed football at its worst.”

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