Liverpool CEO Billy Hogan says he has been “horrified” by accounts from fans after receiving more than 5,000 pieces of feedback about issues surrounding Saturday’s Champions League final.
Liverpool set up an online form for fans to send in their own experiences from around the Stade de France, leading Hogan to condemn incidents “nobody should experience” both before and after the game.
Speaking to the club’s website, Hogan thanked fans for their help with piecing together the picture of what happened outside the stadium, which saw the game delayed for nearly 40 minutes by UEFA and was originally blamed on the late arrival of fans.
“There isn’t a lot of detail at this stage, it’s an evolving process obviously, but we want to ensure that the appropriate steps are taken to getting the facts about what happened on Saturday in Paris,” he said.
“I’ve spent time over the course of today reviewing some of the information and, honestly, I’m horrified by the way some men, women, children – able bodied, less able bodied – have been indiscriminately treated over the course of Saturday.
“I do think it’s important to recognise we’ve all been rightly focused on the access issues at Stade de France; I think it’s also important we don’t lose sight of what happened after the match. I think we’ve all seen videos, photos, I’ve read a number of stories of absolutely horrific experiences leaving the stadium as well – crimes being committed, muggings taking place.
“Nobody should experience what our fans experienced both before or after the match. In our minds, obviously this is wholly unacceptable, which is why it’s important we create this body of experiences, which clearly must be included in the independent investigation.”
That investigation has not yet been commissioned by UEFA despite Liverpool’s request, with Europe’s governing body instead opting for an ‘independent report’ into the issues in Paris. This will be chaired by Portuguese MP Dr Tiago Brandao Rodrigues.
Hogan added: “This may just be a difference in language, but in our mind we requested an independent investigation rather than an independent report. So, again, detail is really important here and we’ll be following up with UEFA on that over the coming days.”
The Liverpool CEO also paid tribute to the groundswell of support from the media and professionals involved in the game for attempting to explain the chaotic scenes around France’s national stadium, in contrast to French sports minister Amelie Oudea-Castera, who blamed Liverpool fans let “out in the wild” for the troubles.
Liverpool supporters were unable to access the Stade de France smoothly ahead of the clash with Real Madrid, which had to be delayed for more than 30 minutes as a result. Speaking earlier on Tuesday, Hogan hit out at the “surprising” comments from the French government official.
The French Sports Minister has since commissioned a report on the troubles that marred the weekend’s showpiece event. Oudea-Castera has asked Michael Cadot, the inter-ministerial delegate for large sports events, to produce the report within 10 days.
France blame ‘fraud’ for CL chaos
The French interior minister has blamed “fraud at an industrial level” for chaos at the Champions League final in Paris with 70 per cent of tickets attempting to come into the Stade de France thought to be fake.
Saturday’s game at the Stade de France between Liverpool and Real Madrid kicked off with a 36-minute delay after police tried to hold back people attempting to force their way into the French national stadium without tickets, while some ticket holders complained they were not let in.
French interior minister Gerald Darmanin said thousands of fake tickets had caused the mayhem that ensued as Liverpool fans attempted to enter the stadium on Saturday evening.
“At 21:00, when the match was supposed to start, 97 per cent of the Spanish supporters were present, only 50 per cent of the British supporters had got into their section which does show the difficulties that arose only from the entrance relating to the Liverpool supporters and not the other entrances,” he said at a press conference addressing the crowd problems.
“There was massive fraud to an industrial level and organisation of fake tickets because the pre-filtering by the Stade de France and the French football federation saw that 70 per cent of tickets were fake.
“Once through the pre-filtering stage, 15 per cent of tickets were fake, more than 2,600 were non-validated tickets even though they’d gone through the first filtering.
“The massive presence of these fake tickets was the issue which meant there were delays. There were 29 arrests that took place within the Stade de France and more than half of those arrests were British supporters because they’d intruded inside the Stade de France.”
French sports minister Oudea-Castera added 30,000-40,000 people were without tickets or fake ones and that “everyone wants to ensure this will never happen again”.
She said: “Some people had bought tickets and were deprived of a match and we would like to say how sorry we are to all those people because their Saturday night experience was completely spoiled. We have asked UEFA those people should be identified and could be compensated soon to try and overcome their frustration.
“The major central point is to really understand precisely what happened during this massive fraud as far as the ticketing is concerned. There are witnesses of this and figures corroborate that 30,000 to 40,000 without tickets or with fake tickets. The fake tickets looked incredibly like normal tickets which meant some controls didn’t notice it.
“We want there to be a very detailed, in-depth inquiry with UEFA to see what happened, why, how and to what extent. UEFA has heard our request and we’re waiting for the rapid setting off of this inquiry.”
Earlier on Monday, Oudea-Castera had blamed Liverpool fans who turned up without valid tickets.
Oudea-Castera told French radio RTL: “What happened, first of all, was this mass gathering of the British supporters of the Liverpool club, without tickets, or with fake tickets.”
UEFA blamed “thousands of fans with fake tickets” for causing delays, while UK Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries called for a formal investigation into what caused the chaos.
‘I didn’t see a single fake ticket’
Sky Sports News’ chief reporter Kaveh Solhekol:
“[The French explanation] does not tally at all with what I saw. Let’s be clear what’s happened in Paris this morning. We’ve had a meeting between the French sports minister, the French interior minister, UEFA and the Paris police chief Didier Lallement. Now I’m sure at this meeting this morning, the police chief had been asked what happened on Saturday. This is embarrassing for France. It was a shambles.
“Look at all the terrible headlines around the world. They are hosting the Rugby World Cup next year. They are hosting the Olympics in 2024. I’m sure he was asked to explain what went wrong, and I think he has passed the blame for what happened on Liverpool supporters and now fake tickets.
“I’m sure there were some fake tickets. There are always fake tickets for big finals, but I did not see anything that looked like an industrial massive fraud operation. For instance, I didn’t have Liverpool supporters coming up to me and telling me complaining or being upset that they bought fake tickets.
“They were coming up to me complaining about the fact that they were being tear-gassed, pepper-sprayed and crushed. They were being treated like animals by the French police.
“What I saw was a shambles, total disorganisation and the blame was totally with UEFA, the French authorities, the stadium authorities and the French police. We were in a situation where 20,000 Liverpool supporters turned up at that stadium early up to five hours before kick-off and they were asked to wait in a confined space and there was a gap which was only big enough for one person that 20,000 people had to be filtered through.
“There were no Liverpool supporters at this meeting and there were no Real Madrid supporters at this meeting. I didn’t see a single fake ticket. I would treat with extreme caution what was said at this press conference.
“Not a single supporter came up to me and said, ‘I was sold a fake ticket. I’ve wasted thousands of pounds on this’. I saw some very, very upset supporters because they were being treated terribly by the French police. That is what I saw. I saw women and children in tears, women and children being tear-gassed.
“From the Real Madrid supporters I spoke to and what I saw with my own eyes, there were a lot of problems at the Real Madrid end as well. I know you’re seeing this narrative, especially on social media, asking why there were only problems at the Liverpool end, while everything was nice and peaceful at the Real Madrid end.
“That was not the case. I was actually pepper-sprayed at the Real Madrid end of the ground.
“There were major problems at the Real Madrid end of the ground as well. There were many, many local French youths who got into the Real Madrid end of the ground. Many Real Madrid supporters were mugged and attacked after the game as well, so it was not all happy at the Real Madrid end of the ground either.”