Champions League: Chain of failures marred Paris final, French inquiry says

A chain of failures marred the Champions League final in Paris last month, a French government report says.

They included lack of preparation for travelling fans, huge numbers of people without tickets or fake ones, and security failures at the stadium.

The report does not apportion blame, but recommends improvements which the government says will be implemented.

The fiasco included tear-gassing fans before the match on 28 May and attacks on them by local youths afterwards.

Real Madrid won the match 1-0 against Liverpool at the Stade de France.

The chaos – and the initial French response seeking to blame fans for the trouble – has prompted uproar in France as well as the UK and Spain.

Liverpool fans react as they queue to access Stade de France before Champions League Final on 28 May
IMAGE SOURCE,REUTERS

Liverpool fans react as they queue to access Stade de France before Champions League Final on 28 May
Liverpool fans have complained of fearing for their safety in a crush while trying to get into the stadium, despite arriving hours earlier. But they have also told of local gangs from the Saint-Denis area descending on crowds after the match, stealing phones and watches and threatening them with knives.

Liverpool’s mayor has accused French police officers of being too quick to threaten fans with batons.

Interior Minister GĂ©rald Darmanin has particularly come under fire for blaming the trouble outside the stadium on “massive, industrial-scale” ticket fraud which caused Liverpool fans to turn up en masse.

But the author of the report, Michel Cadot, the government’s envoy for Olympics and other major sporting event preparations, said that Mr Darmanin’s claim that as many as 40,000 Liverpool fans were to blame for the chaos should be “relativised”.

In his 30-page report – the first official conclusion of a government inquiry – Mr Cadot highlighted:

Travel to the venue: Mistakes with signposting safe routes for the fans, aggravated by a strike on the underground train line
Sheer numbers: “Uncontrolled influx of additional members of the public without tickets or with fake ones, in unprecedented proportions”.
Stadium security: A “rupture” in checks and security measures around the stadium, adding that “the organisers and policemen were overwhelmed by the situation”.
Harrowing accounts of post-match violence spark debate
How the Champions League final trouble unfolded
The violence and the way it had been dealt with had “raised questions from outside observers about our country’s ability to deliver and succeed in the major sporting events for which we will soon be responsible” said the report.

Paris is to play host to the 2023 Rugby World Cup and 2024 Olympics.

The report makes five recommendations, including the creation of a national committee to pilot major international sporting events, and the introduction of fully electronic tickets to reduce the risks of fraud.

In a first reaction, French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne said she had asked the interior and sports ministers “to take up the recommendations to put them in place without delay”.

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