The Champions League final between Liverpool and Real Madrid ended in a victory for the Spanish capital side once again in a repeat showing of the final in 2018, but many concerns were raised before the clash of champions as the stadium erupted in chaos.
The clash of titans was held in Paris at the Stade de France, but the kick-off was delayed by 36 minutes. UEFA initially cited that fans were late to fill in the seats, but many Liverpool supporters offered a different explanation and revealed that there was a long queue in the hours leading to the game that prompted a heavy-handed police response to the build-up of fans.
French interior minister Gérald Darmanin seemingly put the blame on British supporters, saying that thousands were without proper tickets on Saturday and forced entry. He also claimed they assaulted stewards.
UEFA later said the delay was down to “security reasons” and revealed that the turnstiles on the Liverpool end had become blocked by thousands of fans who purchased fake tickets that did not work. The French police used tear gas when supporters were held together in tightly packed areas around the stadium, raising safety fears to those that were there.
“We are hugely disappointed at the stadium entry issues and breakdown of the security perimeter that Liverpool fans faced this evening at Stade de France,” wrote Liverpool in an official statement. “This is the greatest match in European football, and supporters should not have to experience the scenes we have witnessed tonight. We have officially requested a formal investigation into the causes of these unacceptable issues.”
Merseyside Police said its officers who were deployed in Paris for the match reported that most fans behaved in an exemplary manner, arriving at the venue early and following queuing directions. Paris police estimate they made 105 arrests.
Liverpool fan Tom Whitehurst said that he had to get his disabled son to safety after they were pepper-sprayed once he arrived at the ground.
“The treatment of supporters by UEFA and the police was an absolute disgrace,” said Whitehurst. “[Fans] were indiscriminately pepper-sprayed, and there were people with tickets, who arrived two-and-a-half hours early, who were queuing up and they were charged at by police with shields.”
Other families and children were also victims of the pepper spray assault, with many describing the event as a traumatic experience, but no explanation has come from the officials yet.