Sunday , July 3 2022

Fresh claim over Liverpool tickets dilutes French government story | Champions League

Officials at the Stade de France found a total of 2,800 “fake” tickets when scanning Liverpool fans into the Champions League final on Saturday, according to reports.

The Agence France-Presse claims the figure was confirmed by stadium authorities and representatives of Uefa during a meeting with the French government on Monday.

The French interior minister, Gérald Darmanin, claimed on Monday that 30,000 to 40,000 Liverpool fans had turned up for the game either without tickets or with counterfeits. He spoke of “massive, industrial-scale and organised fraud with fake tickets”.

The far lower figure of 2,800 relates to tickets scanned by stadium officials and has not been publicised by the French government.

A number of Liverpool fans have said problems with the scanning machines meant legitimate tickets were identified as counterfeit.

A real (left) and a fake ticket for the Champions League final are displayed at a press conference in Paris on Monday following a meeting on security after incidents during the Champions League final at the Stade France stadium.
A real (left) and a fake ticket for the 2022 Champions League final are displayed at a press conference in Paris on Monday. Photograph: Rob Harris/AP

Scenes outside the stadium before the fixture, with thousands of Liverpool fans herded into narrow spaces as they waited hours to enter the ground, have sparked international outrage. Fans have reported oppressive treatment by police, including the use of teargas, and numerous claims of assault by local criminals as they waited to enter the ground.

AFP said it had seen a report sent to French officials, allegedly predicting as many as 50,000 Liverpool fans would arrive in Paris without a legal means of getting into the game.

According to AFP, a briefing note from police body the National Division of the Fight against Hooliganism (DNLH) claimed: “Some [Liverpool fans] will have fake tickets and will try to use them to access the stadium. Others will try to enter the arena by deception, for example by using the uniforms of stewards, Uefa, cleaning or medical staff.”

Liverpool have demanded an apology for Darmanin’s remarks. The chief executive, Billy Hogan, has confirmed the club are investigating the possibility for legal action and the chairman, Tom Werner, wrote to Darmanin: “Your comments were irresponsible, unprofessional, and wholly disrespectful to the thousands of fans harmed physically and emotionally.”

On Monday Uefa announced it would launch an independent inquiry. A former Portuguese government minister and member of the World Anti-doping Agency board, Dr. Tiago Brandão Rodrigues, is to lead the review.

The deputy mayor of the 12th arrondissement of Paris, where the Liverpool fanzone was held, has called for an investigation into the French authorities’ failures at the Stade de France.

Richard Bouigue, who liaised with Liverpool and their supporters over the organisation of the fanzone at Place de la Nation, has written to the Spirit of Shankly union to praise fans’ behaviour.

“I bitterly regret that the Liverpool fans were singled out for criticism and that they were said to be solely responsible for the failure to organise the final,” Bouigue writes. “We must cut through the useless polemics, establish the facts, and compare them with the smooth running of the ‘fan zone’. Fans are not schizophrenic: Dr Jekyll in the morning and Mr Hyde in the evening at Stade de France. The time for official denial is over, the time for apologies must be imposed.

“I deplore the dysfunctions in the organisation of the game and the lack of maintenance of order that led to this real fiasco. We owe you – and ourselves as well – a serious and thorough investigation, to be carried out in the next dew days, involving representatives of the Liverpool supporters and the competent English authorities.”

Bouigue contrasts the chaos at Stade de France with the order at the fanzone, where he estimates 45,000 Liverpool fans were in attendance. French police also used teargas there, however, to disperse crowds after the game.

“I can’t hide the fact that many local residents and shopkeepers were worried – stereotypes about English fans are hard to break,” he writes. “But you were able to reassure everyone, to bring a neighbourhood to life, to animate it with your songs, your enthusiasm and your good mood. I want to thank you sincerely for that.”

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