Sunday , July 3 2022

Liverpool fans caused initial problems in Paris, says French sports minister | Champions League

France’s sports minister has reaffirmed the French government view that Liverpool fans without valid tickets were responsible for the initial crowd control problems at the Champions League final, with problems exacerbated later by local youths trying to force their way in to the game.

Some French far-right politicians, such as Eric Zemmour, said the crowd trouble at Saturday’s match between Liverpool and Real Madrid was caused principally by local youths from the nearby Saint-Denis Paris suburb.

“What we really have to bear in mind is that what happened, first of all, was this mass gathering of the British supporters of the Liverpool club, without tickets, or with fake tickets,” French sports minister Amelie Oudea-Castera said.

“When there are that many people by the entrance to the stadium, there will be people trying to force their way in through the doors of the Stade de France, and a certain number of youths from the nearby area who were present tried to get in by mixing in with the crowd,” she told French radio RTL.

The match kicked off with a 35-minute delay after police tried to hold back people attempting to force their way into the French national stadium without tickets, while some ticket holders complained they were not let in.

TV footage showed images of young men, who did not appear to be wearing the red Liverpool jerseys, jumping the gates of the stadium and running away. Other people outside, including children, were tear-gassed by riot police.

Uefa immediately blamed “the late arrival of fans” for the chaos, even though the congestion began more than two hours before the scheduled kick‑off time. Merseyside match-day police officers who travelled with the Liverpool fans rejected this view.

The chaotic scenes at the French national stadium were branded a national embarrassment, with France due to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup and the 2024 Olympic Games.

Liverpool chief executive Billy Hogan said the treatment of Liverpool fans was “unacceptable” and the club wanted a “transparent investigation” by governing body Uefa.

Britain’s minister for sport, Nadine Dorries, also urged Uefa to launch an investigation.

French minister Oudea-Castera said there were “no problems” regarding Real Madrid supporters at Saturday’s match and said Real Madrid managed to control its travelling supporters better than Liverpool.

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