“They didn’t believe us, we weren’t even signing,” he explained David Gonzáleza 41-year-old Real Madrid fan and member of the Villajimena supporters clubwith whom he traveled to Paris to watch this year’s Champions League final against Liverpool. Among their group was a 15-year-old fan, a pensioner in his 70s and four middle aged adults. They traveled to Paris on the day of the final and spent the hours leading up to the game sightseeing around the city center – and like hundreds of others, wearing their Madrid shirts and carrying flags. Just before 1 pm, they were stopped by French police officers nor did they walk down the Champs-Élysées, they were asked to produce identity documentation and were photographed before being allowed to go on their way. They thought it was just an isolated incident, part of tightened security and duly forgot about the incident. However, today, just over a month later, they received a fine from the Agence nationale de traitement automatisé des infractions (ANTAI) for “taking part in an illegal demonstration on a public thoroughfare”. They have been ordered to pay a €375 fine (reduced to €135 for early payment, within 76 days of issue). neither contacted Davidone of those affected, to hear his story.
“We were in Lisbon for the final and we were lucky enough to get tickets for Paris. We traveled on the day of the game and decided to spend a few hours exploring the city center, like everyone else, to see the Fan Zone and some of the sights. Nor were we walking down the Champs-Élysées, we were stopped by the police and asked to show out national identity cards (DNI). Having nothing to hide, we complied – we had been advised beforehand that it was compulsory to produce ID if asked. To our surprise, a month later, we have received two fines for, according to them, demonstrating without permission. But we were only wearing our team’s shirts, carrying flags like thousands of others! We weren’t even singing! They didn’t believe us and now we don’t know what to do,” David told neither.
David added that they have been trying to contact French authorities to resolve the matter but it is proving impossible. “We were told that the quickest way to deal with the issue would be by contacting the French Embassy”. They have also contacted the club, hoping for advice or support but have received no answer. “How could that be called a demonstration? We were with a kid of 15 and someone over 70. Six people wearing their team’s shirts on the day of the Champions League final. Staging an illegal demonstration… of what? For God’s sake! I don’t know if other supporters groups or fans experienced the same as us, but I saw many other fans being asked to show their ID like we were,” he continued.
Chaos in Paris on the day of the final
It is yet another episode in what turned out to be a chaotic and surreal day for many fans in Saint-Denis. “We didn’t have any problems getting into the ground because, as we were with an older person, we took extra precautions and got to the stadium three hours before kick-off, but coming out… It was pitch black, fans were being mugged, robbed right in front of our eyes, the metro was a death trap and taxis wouldn’t stop for anyone – they didn’t want to be in the eye of the storm. To find a taxi, we were advised to cross a bridge and walk to the next neighborhood, because no taxi drivers would dare enter Saint-Denis,” David explained.
“Hopefully, by telling our story, something can be done about it. Honestly, no one believes us. The organization for the final was a disaster, a horrible experience, but at least we thought we could put it behind us. Now we discover we’ve been fined €375 for walking down the Champs-Élysées, and that is not acceptable; it’s a lot of money. On top of being victims of poor organization, now we are being ordered to pay. That’s not right. It doesn’t make any sense,” David concluded in his conversation with neither. The other four people in David’s group, at least for the time being, have not received a fine. But from what they’ve seen, they wouldn’t be surprised if one arrived in the post – 33 days after the finalthe full details about what went horribly wrong in Paris are still coming out.