Liverpool defender Andy Robertson has said Uefa “messed up” its organization of the Champions League final and condemned the heavy-handed response of French police who teargassed fans trapped outside the Stade de France.
Liverpool have demanded Uefa conduct a formal investigation into the shambolic and dangerous scenes that occurred before, during and after the final against Real Madrid in Paris on Saturday.
Thousands of supporters missed the kick-off, which was delayed 36 minutes because of congestion outside the stadium where Liverpool fans had been corralled into a bottleneck by police. Gates were closed for up to an hour because of problems scanning tickets and security searches. Gangs of locals charged one of the few open gates and attacked and robbed fans leaving the stadium following Liverpool’s 1-0 defeat.
French police on the inside of the perimeter fence used teargas indiscriminately on fans trapped on the outside, with young children and disabled fans affected.
Uefa immediately blamed “the late arrival of fans” for the chaos, even though the congestion started more than two hours before the scheduled kick ‑ off time. The European football governing body later released a statement claiming: “The turnstiles at the Liverpool end became blocked by thousands of fans who had purchased fake tickets which did not work in the turnstiles.”
That line was also peddled by France’s interior minister, Gérald Darmanin, who tweeted: “Thousands of British ‘supporters’, without tickets or with counterfeit tickets, forced entry and sometimes assaulted the stewards.”
Their accounts were rejected by Merseyside match-day police officers who traveled with the Liverpool fans. “Can only describe it as the worst European match I’ve ever worked or experienced,” tweeted @MerPolLFC “I thought the behavior of the fans at the turnstiles was exemplary in shocking circumstances. You were not late 100%. ”
Robertson’s friend was one of many who had a legitimate ticket for the final and was initially refused entry on the false premise of possessing a fake ticket. The Liverpool defender said players became aware of the seriousness of the situation when receiving first-hand accounts from family and friends after the game. He has challenged Uefa’s take on the problems outside the stadium, claiming the organizers and police were “making it up at times and panicked”.
The Scotland captain said: “The biggest game in world football, these situations should not be happening and unfortunately Uefa have messed up. When you come in after the game, you go on your phone and you see everyone struggle to get in, the French police being pretty heavy-handed, people who have got legitimate tickets being told they are fake tickets, which happened to one of my mates and I can assure you it was not a fake ticket so when it comes to it, they have just panicked.
“He luckily managed to get in because one of the club representatives sorted it but they said it was a fake ticket which I could assure you it was not. For me it should not really happen, Uefa should have been better organized. ”
Liverpool supporters group Spirit of Shankly described the scenes as “totally shambolic and extremely dangerous”. The problems for supporters did not end there, with many attacked outside Stade de France after the game. SOS added: “The failure rests with Uefa, the French authorities and police. The consequence of such incompetence was the not unusual heavy-handed response from the police and their indiscriminate use of teargas and pepper spray.
“The French authorities and police also failed to control gangs of local youths before and after the match. Innocent fans were left distraught after they were assaulted, bags pickpocketed and match tickets stolen.
“The safety and well-being of our fans is paramount and in the weeks leading up to the game Spirit of Shankly worked closely with LFC, @FSE and @merpol to ensure all that could be done would be done to ensure this. It was not. And that collective work was ignored by Uefa and the relevant French authorities. ”
Former Liverpool defender Jim Beglin, who is now a television pundit, tweeted: “Post-match last night was the scariest I’ve ever experienced. Organized gangs set about mugging departing fans. We ran a gauntlet of thuggery on our way to the Metro. Not a police officer in sight. Witnessed so many ambush attacks on unsuspecting attendees. Reprehensible @UEFA. ”
Another former Liverpool player, Jason McAteer, reported that his wife and son were among those targeted. He tweeted: “Last night was disgusting. My son attacked my wife mugged @UEFAcom very accountable as well as ground stewards and French police. Hope everyone is getting out of this shitshow safely. ”
There were also reports of police using tear gas to disperse crowds at the Liverpool fanzone after the final whistle. The Uefa designed event was held more than 9km away from the Stade de France at Place de la Nation.
The assistant chief constable of Merseyside police, Chris Green, said: “We are aware Liverpool FC have requested a formal investigation from Uefa and we will be linking in with the club, Uefa and the UK Football Policing Unit to pass on the observations of our officers who attended the game and took part in the pre-match meetings with the relevant authorities.
“As with all European matches, officers from Merseyside were deployed in France to work in an observatory and advisory capacity with the local officers, and they have reported the vast majority of fans behaved in an exemplary manner, arriving at turnstiles early and queuing as directed and their observations will be passed on to the relevant authorities as part of the debrief for the game. We know that people would have witnessed a lot of distressing scenes last night and we wish everyone returning home from Paris a safe journey. ”