Liverpool fans and British MPs demand apology and inquiry over Champions League final chaos | Football

Liverpool fans and British MPs demand apology and inquiry over Champions League final chaos | Football
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Liverpool fans have officially been found blameless for the chaos at the UEFA Champions League final, and are now demanding action.

Liverpool supporters and a group of British MPs are demanding an apology and a full French parliamentary inquiry over the chaos at May’s UEFA Champions League final, with football fans absolved of any blame whatsoever in an official French senate report published on Wednesday.

Reds fans including women, children and the disabled were locked outside turnstiles in dangerous crushes at the Stade de France, tear gassed and hit with riot shields by riot police forces, and robbed by armed gangs of local youths as they attended European football’s showpiece event.

A French senate inquiry was set up in order to ascertain what went wrong and who was responsible for the disorder in Saint-Denis, with politicians, the regional chief of police, UEFA, and supporter representatives all among those asked to provide testimony before senators in central Paris over the course of June.

The senate findings reveal the investigation found that almost every single authority failed in the organisation of the match at one point or another. Particular errors cited include the failure of stewards and police to safely manage a pre-filter ticket check, a failure to respond to a train strike which forced a disproportionate number of fans to arrive at the stadium by one trajectory, and the stereotyping as hooligans of fans based on false information.

In a press conference held to accompany the release of the report detailing the findings of its investigation on Wednesday, senate inquiry co-chairman Laurent Lafon said: ‘Liverpool supporters wanting to support their team are not responsible for what happened. The number of people around the stadium did not cause all the chaos. We know these fans travel en masse, that was foreseen.’

‘We present our apologies and our condolences to Liverpool and Real Madrid fans. They are victims of what happened.’

The report completely contradicts the authorities’ version of events, which from the outset had been widely discredited in France and the United Kingdom. French minister of the interior Gérald Darmanin and sports minister Amélie Oudéa-Castéra repeatedly sought to blame fans for what went wrong in Saint-Denis, with Darmanin in particular being derided for his baseless claim that up to 40,000 Liverpool supporters with fake tickets tried to storm the stadium.

Now, fans and a group of British MPs are demanding both an apology from the French government and for the chaos to be the subject of a French parliamentary inquiry, where those called to testify would do so under oath and there would be the potential for prosecutions.

‘We want a full apology from the French Government with a complete retraction of the lies purported on their behalf on and since 28 May,’ Supporters union Spirit of Shankly said in a statement. ‘We also believe only a full French Parliamentary inquiry, with witnesses testifying under oath, will bring truth and justice, and will continue to lobby to achieve it.’

PARIS, FRANCE - MAY 28: Liverpool fans are locked outside the stadium prior to the UEFA Champions League final match between Liverpool FC and Real Madrid at Stade de France on May 28, 2022 in Paris, France. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)

Liverpool fans with valid tickets were locked outside turnstiles for hours without explanation. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)

Those demands were repeated online by MPs from across the House of Commons, who share the belief that there must be further consequences for the dangerous disorder on the night and blame-shifting which occurred afterwards.

Leader of the Opposition Sir Keir Starmer has joined fans’ calls for an apology, saying: ‘Every football supporter should be safe when they go to games. I’m glad the French Senate report clearly removes any question of blame on Liverpool supporters. But the French Government must also accept these findings and offer a full apology.’

‘Concrete vindication for Liverpool fans, who we all knew were never to blame,’ added Labour’s shadow sports minister Lucy Powell. ‘The French authorities should should offer a full and unqualified apology for the events, and for their smears against Liverpool afterwards.’

‘Consequences must follow,’ agreed backbencher Maria Eagle, while fellow Labour representative Paula Barker said: ‘The French senate confirms what the fans already knew — the fans were not responsible for the dangerous chaos at the CL final in Paris. The French Govt should apologise immediately and agree to a Parliamentary inquiry to hold those responsible to account.’

Politicians including minister of the interior Gérald Darmanin have had their version of events proven entirely untrue by the French senate. (Credits: AP)

Labour’s shadow minister for employment Alison McGovern, meanwhile, said: ‘Liverpool fans were heroes, actually. So many people acted to take care of each other in a very stressful situation. Now we need a full apology from the French authorities, and a proper inquiry. Policing by consent matters. Not just for football fans but for everyone, everywhere.’

Lafon presented the findings of the senate to Darmanin in a questioning session on Wednesday, asking the minister to give a comment or apology to the fans. Darmanin refused, instead using bluster and speaking in incomplete sentences to deflect.

The fiasco has exposed problems of police brutality in France on an international scale, and the story has persistently remained in the headlines across the Channel.

President Emmanuel Macron had originally envisaged hosting European football’s showpiece event as an opportunity to gain votes ahead of June’s legislative elections, but ending up losing his majority with the global embarrassment caused by the shocking scenes and the poor handling of the aftermath playing a part.

UEFA is conducting its own investigation into the chaos, with an independent panel set to present its preliminary conclusion in September before following up with a formal report in November.

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