France holds emergency meeting over Champions League fiasco | Soccer News


The French sports 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.

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

The French government faced a barrage of criticism from the UK press and politicians over the police handling of the match, which saw thousands of Liverpool fans with tickets struggling to gain entry.

French daily Le Monde echoed British complaints on Monday, saying French authorities were “in denial” of their shortcomings that had turned Saturday’s event into a “fiasco”.

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

Dozens of people forced their way into the stadium and others outside, including children, were gassed by police [Jean-Francois Badias/AP Photo]

Monday’s meeting at the Sports Ministry involved European football’s governing body UEFA, French football chiefs and French police.

Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin and Paris police prefect Didier Lallement were also present, as well as the Minister of Sports.

Lallement has called for an official investigation into the production of counterfeit notes, which he says helped cause the problems.

The chaos inevitably brought back painful memories at Liverpool, a club haunted by the Hillsborough disaster in 1989 which claimed the lives of 97 people in a stadium crash.

Liverpool-area Labor MP Ian Byrne, who was present in Paris, told Sky News that fans were treated “like animals”.

“It was horrible – there are no other words to describe it. It was absolutely awful and as someone who was in Hillsborough in 1989 it brought back so many terrible 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 also really brutal”.

Police used tear gas after dozens of people tried to break through barriers, according to the AFP news agency. Security personnel had to round up about 20 fans who had scaled the fence and dug into the ground.

The match was delayed by 36 minutes, almost unprecedented for an occasion of this magnitude and a huge embarrassment for the authorities.

Oudea-Castera told RTL radio that Liverpool, unlike Real Madrid, failed to properly organize the fans who came to Paris.

“Liverpool let their supporters go free, that’s a major difference,” she said.

The minister added that there had been 30,000 to 40,000 Liverpool supporters with fake or no tickets outside the Stade de France just north of the capital.

“We need to see where these counterfeit notes came from…and how they were produced in such large numbers,” she said.

She said “the most regrettable aspect of what happened” was that tear gas was used against families and children who came to watch the final.

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

“I’m not worried, I’m very committed to learning absolutely all the lessons from what happened on Saturday night to improve everything,” she said.

Paris had won the final only after St. Petersburg was stripped of the event due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“Extremely disappointed”

Liverpool said they were “extremely disappointed” that their supporters suffered an “unacceptable” breach of the security perimeter and called for a formal investigation.

“Match delayed, violence, intrusions, tear gas… Saturday evening turned into a fiasco. A failure that, contrary to all evidence, the French authorities attribute solely to British supporters, ”writes Le Monde.

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

In another case of football troubles in France, angry Saint-Etienne supporters took to the pitch after they were relegated from Ligue 1 on Sunday in their qualifier against Auxerre, with French police using tear gas.


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