Liverpool calls for investigation into ‘unacceptable’ treatment of fans

Liverpool Football Club has called for a formal investigation to be carried out over the “unacceptable” treatment of its supporters during Saturday’s UEFA Champions League final at the Stade de France.

Kick-off for Liverpool’s match against Real Madrid was delayed by more than half an hour as thousands of fans remained outside of the stadium.

Videos circulated on social media showed police using pepper spray and tear gas as fans tried to scan their tickets at the Stade de France turnstiles. Some supporters had been queueing for hours and were still outside of the ground at 9pm local time, when the match had been due to kick off.

In a statement, Liverpool said it was “hugely disappointed” at the stadium entry issues and the breakdown of the security perimeter that Liverpool fans faced at the stadium.

“This is the greatest match in European football and supporters should not have to experience the scenes we have witnessed tonight,” the statement said. “We have officially requested a formal investigation into the causes of these unacceptable issues.”

UEFA has claimed that, in the lead-up to the game, turnstiles at the Liverpool end became blocked by “thousands of fans who had purchased fake tickets which did not work in the turnstiles”. UEFA said this created a build-up of fans trying to get in, which led to the kick-off being delayed.

UEFA said it was “sympathetic” to those affected by the events and will further review the matters with the French police and authorities, as well as the French Football Federation.

UK Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries has also called for UEFA to carry out a formal investigation into the scenes which marred the final.

She said: “The footage and accounts from Liverpool fans and the media on their entry to the Stade de France last night are deeply concerning. Thousands of ticket holders travelled to Paris in good time to support their team in the biggest match of their season.

“I urge UEFA to launch a formal investigation into what went wrong and why, in coordination with stadium staff, the French Police, Federation Francaise de Football, Merseyside Police and Liverpool Football Club.”

French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin claimed that thousands of British supporters “without tickets or with counterfeit tickets forced entry and sometimes assaulted the stewards”. Meanwhile, reporters at the match said that local youths were seen climbing over the stadium fences, with Liverpool supporters shouting at them to “get down”.

Speaking to the Associated Press news agency, Ronan Evain, executive director of the Football Supporters Europe group, said that the “stigma” around English fans is being used by the French public authorities for “cheap political gain”.

Evain added: “There have always been mobility problems around the Stade de France. We are appalled by the communication by the French public authorities. Liverpool and Real Madrid fans are the victims of yesterday’s fiasco and are not the culprits here. Tear gassing people trying to enter the stadium is insane.”

The Stade de France staged the final of the UEFA European Championship in 2016 and is due to be a host venue at next year’s Rugby World Cup and the 2024 Olympic Games.

The Champions League final had initially been due to take place at Saint Petersburg’s Gazprom Arena but UEFA moved the match to the Stade de France following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Image: Guilhem Vellut/CC BY 2.0/Edited for size