British MPs call for inquiry after fans tear-gassed at Champions League final

Representatives from local authorities, police and final organisers are to meet in Paris on Monday morning to review events outside the stadium.

By Press Association Published: 29 May 2022 - 10.46pm

Several British MPs have joined Liverpool in calling for a full investigation into the Champions League final chaos.

Ian Byrne, the Labour MP for Liverpool West Derby, attended the match in Paris and said he had never witnessed such scenes since the 1989 Hillsborough disaster.

As with that tragedy, he said he was concerned by the “narrative of lies” which he could see beginning to build. French interior minister Gerald Darmanin tweeted on Saturday night, blaming ticketless British fans for the delays that led to thousands of fans being stuck outside the perimeter fence for hours on end at the Stade de France and then targeted with tear gas.

Byrne has written to Foreign Secretary Liz Truss to urge her to demand a formal investigation and apologies from UEFA and the French authorities, and called for an end to the treatment of football fans as “second-class citizens” and “animals”.

In his letter, he said: “The French authorities and UEFA are quite simply covering their own backs with this narrative.

“As a Liverpool fan, I was in Paris for the match and I can honestly say that the situation outside the ground was one of the most horrendous experiences of my life – and as a Hillsborough survivor, I do not make this comment lightly.”

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries has urged UEFA to investigate what went wrong in Paris
Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries has urged UEFA to investigate what went wrong in Paris (Aaron Chown/PA)

Representatives from local authorities, police and final organisers are to meet in Paris from 1000BST on Monday morning to review events outside the stadium, the PA news agency understands.

Liverpool said on Saturday night that they had “officially requested a formal investigation into the causes of these unacceptable issues”, with Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries and Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston adding their voices on Sunday.

“The footage and accounts from Liverpool fans and the media on their entry to the Stade de France last night are deeply concerning,” Dorries said.

“Thousands of ticket-holders travelled to Paris in good time to support their team in the biggest match of their season.

“I urge UEFA to launch a formal investigation into what went wrong and why, in co-ordination with stadium staff, the French police, the French football federation, Merseyside Police and Liverpool Football Club.

“It is in the interests of everyone involved to understand what happened and to learn lessons from these events.”

Huddleston tweeted: “It is yet to be explained why access to the Stade de France was so limited which led to some @LFC fans, including the young and elderly, being attacked with tear gas and unable to reach their seats.

“A full and urgent investigation must be launched by @UEFA and French authorities.”

It is understood the UK ambassador to Paris has contacted the French Ministry of Interior directly urging an investigation.

A Foreign Office spokesperson said: “Our consular staff are supporting individuals who have been affected by the events in Paris, and are in touch with local authorities.”

Liverpool said the entry issues at the Stade de France and the breakdown of the security perimeter were “hugely disappointing”.

Tear gas was used on the fans waiting at the fence, despite Merseyside Police observers saying the majority of supporters had behaved in an “exemplary” manner there, and it was reportedly deployed again at the fan zone on the Cours de Vincennes immediately after the final whistle.

UEFA said the delays were caused by “thousands of fans” trying to gain entry with fake tickets which would not work in the turnstiles. The Paris police prefecture said these supporters “employed strong force” in an attempt to gain entry and delayed the entrance of those with genuine tickets.

The police said others then sought to capitalise on this and breached the fences.

“The rapid intervention of security forces allowed calm to return and helped remove the disruptors from the surroundings of the Stade de France,” a force statement read.

Kelly Simmons, the women’s professional game director at the Football Association, was caught up in the chaos.

“Crushed on the way in, unable to move for 90 mins. Face wedged against someone in front. Absolutely terrifying. Tear gassed on the way out as we were near a v minor skirmish. A night from hell #paris” she tweeted late on Saturday night.

She added in a further tweet on Sunday: “My legs were like jelly and had to keep sitting down in the game. All I could think was we have to get out at the end. All the fans near me in that crush behaved impeccably calling for calm/no panic. It was just sheer volume and nowhere to go as no gates open.”

And the problems did not end there for fans as after the 1-0 defeat many were reportedly assaulted and robbed by local youths on the 10-minute walk back to train stations.

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