Champions League: France 'regrets organisation and errors' at final as 'fake tickets' blamed

ITV News Northern Reporter Sangita Lal has the latest on the blame game surrounding the chaotic scenes from Saturday's Champions League final

"Fraud at an industrial level" had been blamed for the scenes of chaos that unfolded outside the Stade de France at the Champions League final on Saturday night.

Kick off between Real Madrid and Liverpool was delayed by half an hour with fans were left struggling to get inside after queuing for hours - the situation deteriorated further as French police began pepper spraying those trying to see the match.

"I would like to express our regrets with regard to the organisation of this final, because some people were not able to see the whole of the match," French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin told a news conference on Monday.

"And, of course, I deplore also the errors that took place before this football match," he added.

The politician said 70% of tickets "were fake," resulting in delays, adding: "More than 2,600 were confirmed by Uefa as non-validated tickets even though they had gone through the first filtering."

Uefa has now commissioned an independent review into the events that delayed the match, which will be headed up by Dr Tiago Brandão Rodrigues, a member of Portuguese Parliament.

He will investigate the decision making, responsibility and behaviours of everyone involved in the final. Dr Rodrigues' findings will then be reviewed by Uefa who will determine their next steps.

Earlier in the day France's sports minister blamed fans with fake tickets, or no tickets at all, for the disruption. Young locals attempting to force their way in made the situation worse, Amélie Oudéa-Castéra said.

The politician told French radio station RTL that Liverpool Football Club let "its supporters out in the wild", and argued that Real Madrid's approach "contrasted sharply" as the club "[organised] everything from start to finish".

But Merseyside Police observers described the behaviour of the vast majority of supporters as “exemplary” - and politicians on this side of the Channel have called for an investigation into how the incident unfolded.

Liverpool supporters who got caught up in the crowd told ITV News what they witnessed

A spokesperson for the prime minister said the government wants to see the treatment of Liverpool fans at the Champions League final fully investigated.

He described footage from outside the Stade de France as “deeply upsetting and disturbing”, adding: “We know many Liverpool fans travelled to Paris in good time to support their team in one of the biggest matches of the season and we are hugely disappointed by how they were treated.

“Fans deserve to know what happened, so we are urging Uefa to work closely with the French authorities on a full investigation and to publish those findings.”

As Uefa announce their intention to conduct a full investigation and expose the truth about what happened, as Sangita Lal explains

Asked if Boris Johnson was disappointed with Ms Oudéa-Castéra blaming fans without tickets for the chaos, the No 10 spokesperson said: “I would repeat that we believe the way fans were treated is disappointing. We have obviously seen reports since Saturday of fans who were given authorised tickets from the club not being able to gain entry to the stadium.

“That is exactly why we need a full investigation into what happened and the findings made public.

“We have seen statements from Uefa which also claim that the later kick-off was caused by the late arrival of fans. That doesn’t chime with the experience of many of those standing outside the stadium, so we need a full investigation to get to the bottom of what happened.”

ITV News Granada Reporter Jamal Williams-Thomas was at the match on Saturday and recounted how he saw French police tear-gas fans. He also said there were issues with his media accreditation being accepted by the scanning system, suggesting that could have been behind the ticket issues

Comparisons have since been drawn between Saturday's scenes and the 1989 Hillsborough disaster, after Liverpool West Derby MP Ian Byrne spoke out to demand a formal probe and apology from UEFA and the French authorities.

In a letter to Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, he said: "As a Liverpool fan, I was in Paris for the match and I can honestly say that the situation outside the ground was one of the most horrendous experiences of my life – and as a Hillsborough survivor, I do not make this comment lightly.”

Mr Byrne told Sky News that the chaos was caused by “awful policing, awful stewarding” and “mismanagement around the grounds”.

In a tweet, the Hillsborough Survivors Support Alliance said that what happened on Saturday led to increased anxiety and flashbacks for Hillsborough survivors.

Merseyside Police observers described the behaviour of the vast majority of supporters as “exemplary”, while their counterparts from the Paris prefecture said some had “employed strong force” in a bid to get into the stadium.

Liverpool, who lost 1-0 to Real Madrid, said they had “officially requested a formal investigation into the causes of these unacceptable issues”, while CEO Billy Hogan told LFCTV the treatment of fans was “absolutely unacceptable” and that “people’s safety was put at risk”.Uefa said invalid tickets were to blame for the chaos outside the stadium.

In a statement on Saturday, Uefa said the turnstiles became blocked by thousands of fans who purchased fake tickets which did not work in the turnstiles.

"As numbers outside the stadium continued to build up after kick off, the police dispersed them with tear gas and forced them away from the stadium," the statement read. It continued: "Uefa is sympathetic to those affected by these events and will further review these matters urgently together with the French police and authorities, and with the French Football Federation."

Even the friends and families of the players were caught out by fake tickets that were acquired through the club.

Fans climb on the fence in front of the Stade de France prior to the Champions League final. Credit: AP

The issues started hours before the game, as tens of thousands of Liverpool fans were funnelled underneath a bridge close to the stadium, where they waited for hours in long queues.

Footage on social media appeared to show people climbing over barriers as crowds built up, and the kick-off was delayed by more than 30 minutes.

Police carrying shields and riot gear moved into the area shortly after 8pm and began using tear gas. Tensions outside the stadium were reportedly then driven by young Parisians, causing ticket gates to be shut.

Bottles were thrown at officers who responded with tear gas while supporters argued with ticket officials on the other side of the fence after being refused entry.

Beyond the gates some people, a few wearing Liverpool shirts, were taken away. Those with tickets were later let into the stadium well after the match began.

Similar scenes also took place at the fan zone in the Cours de Vincennes area in the south east of the city. Police said 68 people were arrested and a nearby pub of 500 football fans was evacuated.

Police and stewards block one of the entrances to the Stade de France prior to the Champions League final Credit: AP

A statement from Prefecture de Police, the Parisian police force, said queues formed after fans arrived without tickets.

Uefa said the delay was caused by the late arrival of Liverpool fans, but the club said that was “totally inaccurate”.

A Merseyside Police spokesperson said: “Can only describe it as the worst European match I’ve ever worked or experienced.

“I thought the behaviour of the fans at the turnstiles was exemplary in shocking circumstances. You were not late 100%.”

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