Mistakes, not Liverpool fans, caused CL final fiasco

French senators have said the chaos outside the national stadium that marred the Champions League soccer final was due to a series of mistakes by police and officials – not the actions of the previously blamed Liverpool supporters – with ‘dysfunction at every step’ before, during and after the game.

The senators made a series of recommendations to resolve the issues ahead of next year’s Rugby World Cup and the 2024 Olympics which France will host. The findings of a report on the May 28 final were released on Wednesday after the fiasco drew worldwide attention to heavy-handed policing and raised questions about how France handles security at major events.

Laurent Lafon, the head of one of the Senate committees involved in the fact-finding mission, urged the French authorities to learn lessons from the multiple incidents.

“The seriousness of what happened at the Stade de France shows that there are still many adjustments to be made, and many decisions to be made so that these incidents do not happen again,” said Lafon.

He had no doubts that France would be capable of staging major events in the future but said assurances should be given at the highest level, including French President Emmanuel Macron, of the country’s determination to prevent any repetition. .

Since the final, whose kick-off was delayed by more than 30 minutes, French senators have questioned supporters and officials. Presenting their findings, Lafon blamed a general lack of coordination and authority, saying there was “dysfunction at every step” of the finale.

UEFA has also started to gather evidence on the issues that marred one of the biggest sporting matches in the world. Real Madrid then beat Liverpool 1-0 in the final.

Lafon also apologized to Liverpool and Real Madrid fans, saying they were victims and not responsible for the events, as French authorities initially suggested.

French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin initially argued that the presence of up to 40,000 supporters – allegedly mainly Liverpool fans – without tickets or with counterfeit tickets led to the incidents that marred the event. But only 2,471 fake tickets were identified at the Stade de France.

Darmanin also said dispersing the crowd that had gathered near the stadium fences with tear gas was the only way to prevent people from getting run over.

Many fans also complained of thefts and assaults after the game as they left the stadium.

François-Noël Buffet, the chairman of the Senate’s law commission, said the safety of supporters was not sufficiently ensured, noting that the police force was struggling to put an end to the petty crime that had taken place around of the stadium,

He said it should have been planned and handled better.

“The number of people mobilized to fight crime was therefore underestimated,” he said.

The senators also criticized the decision of the police headquarters to set up a system of pre-screening of supporters intended to prevent terrorist attacks in combination with the control of tickets by stewards. Buffet said this unintentionally created a bottleneck and should not be repeated in the future.

Lafon also criticized UEFA’s ticketing system and said paper tickets were easily forged.

The senators regretted the automatic deletion of CCTV images of events outside the Stade de France since the judicial authorities did not request the seizure of the images within seven days of the incidents.

Buffet recommended that retention of this video for 30 days become mandatory.

“What we will forever miss are the images. The real regret is there,” Buffet said.

The senators also pointed to the mishandling of fans and where they tried to enter the stadium, following a transport strike. Stewards need better training in the future, with better coordination with police forces.

Paris police chief Didier Lallement has previously justified pepper spraying fans, many with families, amid the chaos. Lafon said Lallement had clear responsibility for the failure, and Buffet recommended more clarity on when the use of tear gas was justified.


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