France’s interior minister has sparked anger by trying to blame ‘thousands of British fans’ for causing violent chaos at Liverpool’s European Cup final in Paris.
Despite images of supporters of the Reds gassed with tear gas and charged with batons, Gérald Darmanin held them responsible for the disorders which led to 68 arrests on Saturday evening.
In a damning Tweet, Mr Darmanin said he saw much of the trouble playing out in the ‘Stade de France security centre’ as the English side lost 1-0 to Spanish champions Real Madrid .
“Thousands of British ‘supporters’ without tickets or with counterfeit tickets forced their way in and sometimes assaulted the stewards,” said Mr Darmanin, whose job is equivalent to that of Home Secretary in Britain.
With @AOC1978, at the Stade de France security headquarters. Thousands of British “supporters”, without tickets or with counterfeit tickets, forced entry and sometimes violated the stadiums. Thank you to the very many police forces mobilized this evening in this difficult context. pic.twitter.com/gEXCqPhWmZ
— Gérald DARMANIN (@GDarmanin) May 28, 2022
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He added: “Thank you to the very many police forces mobilized this evening in this difficult situation.”
Mr. Darmanin said he was supported in his point of view by the Minister of Sports Amélie Oudéa-Castera, who was also in the game.
Their demands are likely to increase tensions between Britain and the current French government, which has been fiercely critical of the UK since Brexit.
President Emmanuel Macron, who regularly attacks Britain on a range of issues, was not at the football game and has so far left it to his most senior ministers to talk about it.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has meanwhile joined his club in demanding a full public inquiry, saying their fans have been the victims.
A club statement read: “We are extremely disappointed with the stadium entry issues and breach of perimeter security that Liverpool supporters faced at the Stade de France tonight.
“It is the biggest match in European football and fans should not have to experience the scenes we witnessed tonight. We have officially requested a formal investigation into the causes of these unacceptable issues.
UEFA, European football’s governing body, blamed the “counterfeit tickets” in a message which read: “During the match, the turnstiles at the Liverpool side were blocked by thousands of fans who had bought fake tickets that didn’t work in the turnstiles..
“This created a backlog of fans trying to get in. As a result, kick-off was delayed by 35 minutes to allow as many fans as possible with genuine tickets to gain access.
“As the number of people outside the stadium continued to pile up after kick-off, the police dispersed them with tear gas and forced them away from the stadium.”
The Champions League final was marked by gruesome scenes before and after kick-off.
The match was delayed for more than half an hour as fans clashed with police across the French capital.
Pepper spray and tear gas were used by officers as the crowd tried to enter the stadium before the original 9 p.m. kick-off time.
Dozens of heavily armed officers were also filmed beating supporters in a dedicated fan zone in the east of the city.
A chilling video showed women among the victims of police violence, which appeared unprovoked.
“The police came at the fans with batons and shields,” said a spectator who witnessed the trouble, which occurred during the first half.
“Officers had been on standby all day with water cannons and other crowd control devices, and their numbers were increasing as the day went on.
“They seemed unhappy with the amount of alcohol they had been drinking and so decided to move in. It seemed to be unprovoked.”
In turn, a police source said officers were responding to “crowd issues” among the thousands of Liverpool fans around Nation Square.
The place had been reserved for the estimated 40,000 Liverpool supporters who were in the city without tickets for the high-profile game against Real Madrid.
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