French interior minister apologizes for Champions League chaos football news

Gerald Darmanin says he was “partially responsible” for the chaos at last month’s Champions League final in Paris.

French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin has apologized for the “bad management” that wreaked havoc at last month’s Champions League final between Real Madrid and Liverpool in Paris, while insisting counterfeit tickets and “crime” were the main culprits were responsible for it.

“Could things have been handled better at the Stade de France (stadium)? The answer is yes. Am I responsible? The answer is yes,” Darmanin told RTL radio on Tuesday.

“Of course, I immediately apologize to everyone who suffered from this poor management of the event,” he added.

After scenes of fans crammed into a confined space and tear-gassed by police sparked outrage across Europe, Darmanin blamed the disruption on fans with fake tickets.

UEFA director of events Martin Kallen told French senators investigating the fiasco last week that the number of counterfeit Football Association tickets is well below the tens of thousands claimed by French authorities.

Liverpool fans after the final Champions League football match between Liverpool and Real Madrid at a fan park in Paris, France
Liverpool fans after the final Champions League football match between Liverpool and Real Madrid at a fan park in Paris, France [File: Jean-Francois Badias/AP]

“We don’t think it’s the number given in France,” he said, adding that 2,600 counterfeit tickets were identified at turnstiles – compared to the number of 30,000 to 40,000 people with counterfeit tickets and no tickets suggested by Darmanin became.

“It was a question of fake tickets … which caused the difficulties we all know about” from large crowds of fans packed in underpasses or in front of locked gates, Darmanin pointed out on Tuesday.

He added that “if anything went wrong at the Stade de France, it was the fight against crime,” he said, saying he had already ordered a police reorganization around the venue and that three major games have since gone without incident passed.

Liverpool fans stand in front of the Stade de France and don't get in in time
Liverpool fans stand outside the Stade de France in Saint-Denis north of Paris [File: Thomas Coex/AFP]

While some fans reported being victims of crimes committed by youth gangs before and after the game, there were also many complaints about the treatment of fans by the police.

Disabled Liverpool fans told the Senate last week how officials sprayed tear gas at people in wheelchairs.

English supporters have reacted with particular anger to Darmanin’s defense of French police action.

“People’s memories will be forever marred by the lack of organization and stubborn policing and of course the way the authorities have tried to deflect blame and scapegoat Liverpool fans for their incompetence,” Liverpools said Mayor Steve Rotheram told AFP earlier this month.

CCTV footage around the stadium was also deleted despite the Senate investigation.

A government report released earlier this month says a “string of failures” by French authorities has done “severe damage” to the country’s image in preparation for hosting the 2024 Olympics.

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