Defeat is bitter. But the evening is all the more painful for the supporters of Liverpool. The Champions League final did not go as planned on Saturday May 28 at the Stade de France. Real Madrid won 1-0, and the British, in addition to the defeat, had to digest the welcome they received. Supporters massed in front of the gates, free riders in shambles, counterfeit tickets and muscular interventions by the police… Relocated at short notice to Saint-Denis, the Champions League final offered scenes of chaos on Saturday, suggesting dysfunctions in the organization of the event.
The organizers of the Champions League final, the police and the local authorities must also meet on Monday at 11 a.m. to “identify” these malfunctions and determine what may have caused the problems of access for supporters to the Stade de France. . “With the Minister of the Interior, we deplore the incidents that marred the evening of the Champions League on Saturday evening at the Stade de France and regret that some supporters with tickets were unable to attend the match,” said in a statement. communicated the new Minister of Sports and the Olympic and Paralympic Games Amélie Oudéa-Castera.
The prefect of police of Paris, Didier Lallement, decided to take legal action for a “massive fraud with counterfeit tickets” on Saturday, for access to the final of the Champions League, believing that this “could have had very serious consequences. serious for the safety of spectators”.
For her part, the British Secretary of State for Culture and Sport, Nadine Dorries, has asked UEFA for an “official investigation” into the causes of the incidents. “I urge UEFA to launch a formal investigation to find out what went wrong and why, in cooperation with stadium staff, French police, the French Football Federation, Merseyside police [the region of Liverpool] and Liverpool FC”, announced Nadine Dorries again.
While the pre-match had been good-natured, the tension mounted as the match approached, initially scheduled for 9 p.m.: huge queues formed around the Stade de France, where the screening The number of supporters was a trickle, to the point that UEFA postponed kick-off by 36 minutes, an unprecedented event in the recent history of the event. At least a thousand supporters were stranded, shouting “Open the gate”.
Then attempts at intrusion by people without a ticket undermined the system. Tear gas was launched to prevent a few dozen individuals, some of whom did not wear the colors of either club, from climbing the barriers. “There were jostling, crowd movements, we provided answers,” said a police source, as 105 people were arrested.
Some English fans, who came with family, complained of being targeted. “I’m a teacher, I’ve never been tear gassed before. […] The police pushed me against the door, it was not necessary. They behaved as if they had an army in front of them,” complained, in tears, Pete Blades, a 57-year-old French teacher in Liverpool. The queues only cleared up at halftime.
Nearly 7,000 police, gendarmes and firefighters were mobilized on Saturday. Two security perimeters were deployed: a pre-filtering about 200 meters from the enclosure, then a second on the stadium forecourt, with turnstiles.
According to two representatives of supporters present at the Stade de France, a problem of referral of the crowd has accentuated the congestion. Coming preferably by RER D due to strikes affecting RER B, Liverpool supporters found themselves faced with only 4 pre-filtering accesses, while there were 13 accesses at the RER B exit, reports one from these sources. “This created a phenomenon of suffocation and crushing on the RER D side,” she points out, lamenting a lack of stewards to direct the flow.
UEFA denounced the influx of thousands of spectators with counterfeit tickets, which blocked the turnstiles and slowed access. A source close to the government argued on Sunday that it was “a sporting problem more than a security one”, caused by these “thousands of counterfeit tickets”. “There were a lot of counterfeits,” admits a source close to the organization. There were “blockchain” tickets (digitally authenticated, editor’s note), but UEFA gave in to the request of Liverpool “who asked to have 20,000 paper tickets”, and there were “photocopies, crude imitations , others very well done”.
Liverpool defender Andy Robertson reported after the game that someone close to him, to whom he offered a real ticket, was told that his ticket was fake. “It was very badly organised,” the Scotsman castigated. Fans have also reported ticket thefts.
It usually takes more than a year to prepare for such a planetary event. But after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the French Football Federation (FFF) recovered the organization initially entrusted to Saint Petersburg at the end of February. And this reduced time may have weighed, as UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin suggested on Friday in an interview with AFP: “I said to my teams: Don’t tell me you need a year or two, because we only have three weeks. It’s not easy,” he said.
A source close to the executive admitted insufficient mobility of the police, who “overreacted” to the festive events, against a background of “insufficient preparation”, and “undervaluation of the number of supporters”.
“It raises the question of France’s ability to organize events of this size,” points out Ronan Evain, executive director of the Football Supporteurs Europe (FSE) network, while the 2023 Rugby World Cup and the Olympics 2024 will take place in France. “We continue to reproduce the same organizational patterns that have already failed in the past. »