Supporters involved in the chaos which marred last month’s Champions League showpiece in Paris have been given the chance to recall their own experiences during a hearing in the French Senate
Liverpool and Real Madrid fans have joined forces to send a damning message to the French authorities over the police’s handling of last month’s Champions League final.
Supporters had the chance to tell the truth when they appeared before the French Senate yesterday and they detailed a list of failings by the French authorities and police.
They pointed the finger at interior minister Gerald Darmanin who tried to deflect blame on to the fans by claiming there were between 30,000-40,000 ticketless fans outside the Stade de France.
Ted Morris, chairman of the Liverpool Disabled Supporters Trust, demanded to know why Darmanin had lied. “The 30-40,000 ticketless fans figure is absolutely not correct,” he said. “We are strongly trying to show that.
“Why has the CCTV been deleted? In my opinion it’s because the images don’t support Gérald Darmanin’s version of events. Why has Gérald Darmanin lied? That’s the key question. I hope these hearings will give you the answer to the question.”
The fans received a sympathetic hearing from the senators and one of them, Patrick Kanner, said they would grill Darmanin over his version of events.
Kanner said: “I believe that the demand from our English friends to bring Gérald Darmanin’s version of events into the light is useful. Perhaps we should interrogate him again. There are blatantly things to be discovered.”
Joe Blott, chair of fans’ group the Spirit of Shankly, also accused the authorities of using the supporters as scapegoats. Blott claimed the police viewed all Liverpool fans as hooligans and treated them accordingly.
He added that it was only because of the actions of the Reds supporters that no-one died in the disorder. “The hooligans that French police spent months preparing for from Liverpool simply do not exist,” he told the hearing.
“They did not alter their tactics when no hooligans arrived, and instead treated families, children, and people with disabilities like criminals. How did the authorities get the management of this game so wrong?
“Why was their first instinct to blame fans, with a lie about late arrivals broadcast on the big screens at the Stade de France?
“To hear French authorities use similar lies to those used by the British all those years ago once again in 2022, about fans arriving late, or with fake tickets, or drunk, has caused an immense amount of shock, anger and pain.
“These fans were indiscriminately tear gassed and beaten. Many feared for their lives in dangerous crushes, and some left the vicinity for their own safety. Failures by the French state left some fans traumatised and others with serious injuries.
“Liverpool fans behaved calmly and ensured there were no deaths outside the Stade de France.”
Blott told senators that Paris needs to make drastic changes to ensure there is no repeat of these terrible scenes at next year’s rugby World Cup and the 2024 Olympics. “We demand an apology and a retraction of the lies being told and for the supporters who will be travelling to the rugby World Cup and to the Olympics, a fair investigation.”
And despite those desperate attempts to paint Liverpool supporters as the perpetrators of the chaos, Madrid fans have joined them in condemning the police., admitting the tactics deployed elicited memories of the Hillsborough disaster which cost 97 innocent Liverpool fans their lives in 1989.
Real fan Emilio Dumas also gave evidence at the hearing and pointed the blame squarely at the feet of the police. Dumas told the hearing that Real fans also experienced problems and were targeted by local pickpockets and thieves.
“I have been to two other Champions League finals in Paris, eight in total, and I have never lived anything like happened this time,” he said. “I was terrified for myself and my friends.
“I feel shame for France and its reputation around the world. This is an unacceptable thing to have happened in a country like France. For the elderly and disabled there was a huge problem at the turnstiles. It was very dangerous.
“The queue at Gate N was about 300 metres long. There were local young adults mixed in with us. They were still thieving and being aggressive. We had what happened at Hillsborough in our heads. This was a completely horrendous experience.
“I have never seen such a passive and inactive attitude from a police force as there was after the match at the Stade de France. I didn’t see many fake tickets or stewards lifting the barriers for friends, but it’s true that the local young adults had an incredible technique for stealing tickets at the turnstiles.
“Many young pickpockets robbed from Real Madrid fans. The father of a friend had his phone stolen for example.”