French Senate report criticises security flaws over Champions League crowd disorder

By Sudip Kar-Gupta

PARIS (Reuters) – A French Senate report on Wednesday slammed organisational failings that resulted in crowd disorder and crime at May’s Champions League soccer final between Liverpool and Real Madrid, which sparked political tensions between Britain and France.

The May 28 final at Paris’ Stade de France, which Liverpool lost 1-0 to Real Madrid, was delayed after police forcefully held back people trying to enter the ground.

Riot police sprayed tear gas on fans, including women and children. Liverpool fans, such as Liverpool Mayor Steve Rotheram, also said they were robbed by criminals from the local Paris Seine St Denis suburb.

French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin has consistently said that one of the main problems was large numbers of Liverpool fans turning up without valid tickets, but the Senate report also highlighted other failings.

“Ticketing cannot be considered as the sole or main reason for the incidents,” said Senator Laurent Lafon.

“There was a lack of organisation between the different parties concerned,” added Lafon, pointing to insufficient co-ordination between police, security at the stadium and transport officials dealing with a public transport strike on the day.

Darmanin and French Sports Minister Amelie Oudea-Castera have apologised to supporters caught up in the trouble, but have maintained that many Liverpool supporters arrived with fake tickets – something denied by Liverpool fans.

The spokesman for British Prime Minister Boris Johnson had also said in May that Johnson was hugely disappointed by how Liverpool fans had been treated in Paris, while Darmanin had said Liverpool posed public order problems.

The trouble also marred France’s image as a host of major sporting events, with the country due to stage the 2023 Rugby World Cup and 2024 Olympics.

(Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta; Editing by Christian Radnedge)