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What happened to Liverpool fans during Champions League final and who was to blame

There was widespread havoc outside the Stade de France in Paris as Liverpool and Real Madrid prepared to face off in the Champions League final at the end of May.

 

The Liverpool fanbase endured heartbreak in May when their team was defeated 1-0 in the Champions League final in May.

 

But for some Reds fans, the result was the least of their worries.

 

Some of the thousands of supporters who had journeyed to Paris for the May 28 spectacle feared for their lives after a queueing system went seriously wrong.

 

The final at the Stade de France against Real Madrid — who won thanks to a goal by Vinicius and the goalkeeping heroics of Thibaut Courtois — was delayed by 36 minutes due to issues faced by travelling fans attempting to enter the stadium.

 

Tear gas and pepper spray were deployed on supporters by local police as chaos ensued in the French capital, with some fans appearing to be trapped against metal fences.

 

BBC One’s Panorama will take a microscope to what happened at the 75,000-capacity venue in its hour-long investigation, The Champions League Final: What Went Wrong?

 

It is a question football fans and watchers of Europe’s premier football club competition are still asking themselves, five months on.Liverpool fans Champions League final

Liverpool fans were involved in chaotic scenes in the lead-up to the Champions League final in Paris

With a funnel-style queuing system put in place by French authorities, the 20,000 or so Liverpool fans with tickets were allowed into the stadium in just a trickle.

Forced to queue in almost single file, the slow going led to a massive build-up of fans as kick-off neared, meaning there was a crush developing.

That sense of panic was only added to when people — many thought to be locals — looked to force their way into the ground without a ticket, scaling the fences.

 

There was accusations of heavy-handedness from French police, with children and families targeted with pepper spray as they waited at shut gates to be let in for the clash between Europe’s footballing royalty.

 

Liverpool fans Champions League final

Liverpool fans were involved in chaotic scenes in the lead-up to the Champions League final in Paris ( Image: REUTERS)

With a funnel-style queuing system put in place by French authorities, the 20,000 or so Liverpool fans with tickets were allowed into the stadium in just a trickle.

 

Forced to queue in almost single file, the slow going led to a massive build-up of fans as kick-off neared, meaning there was a crush developing.

 

That sense of panic was only added to when people — many thought to be locals — looked to force their way into the ground without a ticket, scaling the fences.

 

There was accusations of heavy-handedness from French police, with children and families targeted with pepper spray as they waited at shut gates to be let in for the clash between Europe’s footballing royalty.

 

Everyone from manager Jurgen Klopp’s family to former Liverpool legends were caught up in the scary drama going on outside the stadium.

Alan Kennedy — who famously helped sink Real Madrid in the 1981 European cup final with his goal in the tie — told GB News he had to be “hauled over a fence” to get away from the commotion, fearing he was “close to death” in the melee.

When the game did get underway after the 36-minute delay to kick-off, some ticket holders were still not in the stadium and many did not gain entry at all.

Who was to blame for the Champions League final chaos?Liverpool fans with tickets Champions League Paris final

Some fans with tickets never got into the ground for the 2022 final against Real Madrid
 

A number of investigations are looking to find out the reason for the chaos, but “systematic failings” have been identified in how organisers put the event together and managed fan safety.

When announcing the delay and even after the match, UEFA first looked to blame fans for the hold-up.

 

The stadium tannoy had announced the delay was due to the “late arrival of fans”, while French police said “people attempted to penetrate the stadium” and accused people of turning up with “fake” tickets.

 

But journalists at the scene told a different story, outlining how fans had turned up hours before kick-off to get into the stadium and mostly remained calm, despite the horrific handling by authorities.

 

After the match, Real Madrid fans also spoke about their struggle to get in for the big sporting occasion.

 

Both clubs called for an inquiry into what happened, with UEFA later announcing its own probe, along with a separate investigation by the French government.

 

In June, the Prime Minister of France published a damning report into the carnage at the Champions League final.

 

The inquiry — led by the French inter-ministerial delegate for the Olympics and major events Michel Cadot — concluded that organisers were to blame for the chaos, not supporters.

 

Cadot called out the excuses by Paris police prefect Didier Lallement and France Interior Minister Gerard Darmanin, saying there was no evidence to support their claims 40,000 ticketless fans, committing a “mass fraud” were to blame.

 

He said the police had not recognised “serious failings” in the kettling of fans and at malfunctioning entry gates, which caused the horrendous scenes.

 

The report said the kettling of fans down from thousands into a virtual single file created a dangerous bottleneck that threatened the safety of thousands.

 

UEFA’s own study into what happened is continuing, but the footballing body faced criticism after it failed to admit fault when publishing its official report into the final.

 

In page 10 of the technical report of the tournament released in August, it read: “For all the colour inside [the stadium], this was a final whose kick-off was delayed for 36 minutes amid distressing scenes for supporters outside.

 

The impact on players who had to leave the dressing rooms for a second warm-up prior to the eventual kick-off was a moot point.”

 

There is then no other mention of the incidents in the detailed report of the final, despite the French authorities’ admissions two months earlier.

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