France holds emergency meeting over Champions League fiasco | football news

France’s sport ministry has called an emergency meeting of security and football officials following the chaos that marred the Champions League final between Liverpool and Real Madrid.

Sport Minister Amelie Oudea-Castera blamed Liverpool for Saturday’s chaos ahead of Monday’s meeting. He also acknowledged that there are lessons to be learned as Paris prepares for the 2024 Olympics.

The French government has been criticized by the press and politicians in the UK for its policing of the game, which saw thousands of Liverpool fans with tickets struggling to enter.

Leading French daily Le Monde echoed Britain’s complaints on Monday, saying French authorities were “denying” their shortcomings that turned Saturday’s event into a “fiasco”.

The scenes have tarnished the French capital’s image and raised questions about its ability to host major sporting events as it prepares for sporting showpiece 2024 as well as Rugby World Cup 2023.

Liverpool supporters react as Real Madrid win the Champions League Final at the Fan Park in Paris
Dozens entered the stadium and others outside, including children, were tear-gassed by police [Jean-Francois Badias/AP Photo]

The European football governing body UEFA, French football bosses and the French police took part in Monday’s meeting at the sports ministry.

In addition to the sports minister, interior minister Gerald Darmanin and Paris police chief Didier Lallement were also present.

Lallement has called for a formal investigation into the manufacture of counterfeit tickets, which he says contributed to the problems.

The chaos inevitably brought back painful memories for Liverpool, a club devastated by the 1989 Hillsborough disaster that claimed the lives of 97 people in a crowd at the stadium.

Labor MP for Liverpool Ian Byrne, who was present in Paris, told Sky News that fans had been treated “like animals”.

“It was horrific – there are no other words to describe it. It was absolutely horrible and as someone who was in Hillsborough in 1989 it brought back so many horrible memories,” he said.

Liverpool Mayor Joanne Anderson, who was also at the scene, told the BBC it was “absolutely chaotic but also the behavior of the police was really brutal”.

According to the AFP news agency, police used tear gas after dozens of people tried to climb over barricades. Security personnel had to round up about 20 fans who had climbed over the fence and crashed into the ground.

The game was postponed by 36 minutes, almost unprecedented for an event of this magnitude and a major embarrassment for the authorities.

Oudea-Castera told Radio RTL that unlike Real Madrid, Liverpool failed to properly organize the fans coming to Paris.

“Liverpool have let their supporters at large, that’s a big difference,” she said.

The minister added that there were 30,000 to 40,000 Liverpool fans with fake tickets or no tickets outside the Stade de France stadium north of the capital.

“We need to see where these fake tickets are coming from… and how they were made in such large numbers,” she said.

She said “the most regrettable aspect of this was that tear gas was used on families and children who came to see the final.

But she insisted France was capable of hosting major sporting events.

“I’m not worried, I’m very committed to making sure we take absolutely all the lessons from what happened on Saturday night to make things better,” she said.

Paris were only awarded the final after Saint Petersburg was banned from the event because of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“Very disappointed”

Liverpool said it was “very disappointed” that its supporters had faced an “unacceptable” collapse of the security perimeter and called for a formal investigation.

“Delayed play, violence, burglaries, tear gas… Saturday night turned into a fiasco. A failure that the French authorities, against all evidence, attribute only to British supporters,” wrote Le Monde newspaper.

France’s interior ministry said 105 people had been arrested, of whom 39 were arrested and remanded in custody, meaning they could face charges.

In another case of football troubles in France, angry Saint-Etienne fans stormed the pitch after being relegated from Ligue 1 in their playoff against Auxerre on Sunday, with French police using tear gas.

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