Two of the biggest games in football have been marred by crowd trouble and disorder in less than a year.
The Euro 2020 final at Wembley Stadium was a case study in poor planning, inept officiating and bad behaviour on the minority of supporters, and the scenes before, during and after the clash between England and Italy have ended hopes of a joint UK bid to host the World Cup in 2030.
And on Saturday, we had the chaos and disorder ahead of the Champions League final in Paris, which saw the kick off time of one of the most prestigious games in the sport delayed by half-an-hour due to the manic episodes unfolding outside of the Stade de France.
Liverpool supporters were forced to queue for hours to get into the ground, while some individuals purporting to be fans of the club managed to break through security, vault fences and enter the venue with fake tickets.
As the French police lost control of the situation, they began spraying tear gas Reds fans – including the elderly and children – as they sought to regain order.
Authorities Have Questions to Answer
A handful of French politicians have apologised for the policing on the night, while Mathieu Valet – the spokesperson for France’s independent police commissioner’s union SICP – claimed that ‘it’s clear that we needed more police – we didn’t have enough on the ground.’
But French interior minister Gerald Darmanin has since blamed ‘massive fraud on an industrial scale’ for the issues – suggesting that Liverpool’s decision to issue paper tickets, in contrast to the three-quarters of Real Madrid fans who had a digital pass, was the root cause for more than 40,000 supporters turning up without a legitimate ticket.
Meanwhile, the French sports minister Amelie Oudea-Castera claimed that Liverpool had left their fans ‘out in the wild’, while observing there were ‘no problems’ with the behaviour of Real Madrid supporters.
Hitting back, Reds chairman Tom Werner wrote an open letter to Darmanin and Oudea-Castera, stating:
“Your comments were irresponsible, unprofessional, and wholly disrespectful to the thousands of fans harmed physically and emotionally.”
And Billy Hogan, the Liverpool chief executive, has spoken of his willingness to help fans affected to take legal action against French police, and revealed:
“We have followed up on our request for an independent investigation with UEFA in writing. We’ve also noted our deep concern about the false information that’s being circulated, while urging UEFA to agree to an open and transparent investigation into everything that happened on Saturday night.”
It appears as if Hogan will have his wish. UEFA have now confirmed they will commission an independent investigation into what went wrong, examining the behaviour of each of the parties involved as well as the organisation and planning that went into the logistics of the final.
“Evidence will be gathered from all relevant parties, and the findings of the independent report will be made public once completed. Upon receipt of the findings, UEFA will evaluate the next steps,” a spokesperson for the governing body revealed.