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Culture secretary calls for UEFA investigation into ‘deeply concerning’ scenes at Champions League final

The culture secretary has called on UEFA to launch a formal investigation into violent scenes in Paris that delayed the Champions League final between Liverpool and Real Madrid.

The size of the crowd outside the Stade de France on Saturday evening appeared to overwhelm security, with many supporters waiting outside for hours, while others were not allowed in until half-time.

Liverpool fans were subjected to violence, with tear gas and pepper spray being used repeatedly by police.

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

“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 coordination with stadium staff, the French Police, Fédération Française de Football, 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.”

The Reds lost to Real Madrid 1-0 at the stadium, just north of Paris after the game finally got going half an hour late.

Supporters with tickets were made to wait in huge queues outside the stadium before French police used tear gas.

Fans spoke of officers pointing guns at them after the game and voiced their disgust at seeing elderly fans and children caught up in the mayhem.

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Tear gas thrown at Liverpool fans

Cabinet minister Brandon Lewis earlier told Sky News’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday programme it appeared that an “aggressive approach” had been used against Liverpool fans by French police and it was “concerning”.

Liverpool defender Andy Robertson said it had “not been well organised” and many of the players’ families and friends were caught up in the scenes.

Liverpool Mayor Joanne Anderson tweeted: “Disgusted by appalling management & brutal treatment of @LFC fans by French police & Stade De France staff @ChampionsLeague final.

“I’m writing to Foreign Sec @trussliz requesting answers from @UEFAcom, & for President @EmmanuelMacron to investigate.

“Shameful to pin blame on fans.”

Liverpool fans at the Stade de France

Image:
Children were caught up in the scenes outside Stade de France

But French interior minister Gerald Darmanin said the blame did lie with those who had travelled from the UK.

After visiting security HQ at the stadium, he tweeted: “Thousands of British ‘fans’, without tickets or with fake tickets forced their way in and, sometimes, violated the stewards.”

French sports minister Amelie Oudea-Castera said “attempts at intrusion and fraud by thousands of English supporters complicated the work of the stadium staff and police”.

UEFA, European football’s governing body, also appeared to blame British supporters, saying: “In the lead-up to the game, the turnstiles at the Liverpool end became blocked by thousands of fans who had purchased fake tickets which did not work in the turnstiles.”

Champions League Final Liverpool v Roma. Fans said police officers used pepper-spray “unprovoked” while they were waiting to get inside the Stade de France

Image:
Fans said police used pepper spray on them as they waited in the long queue

Prefecture de Police, the Parisian police force, blamed fans arriving without tickets too, saying: “Exerting strong pressure to enter the enclosure, these supporters delayed access to spectators with tickets.”

But Merseyside police said the “behaviour of the fans at the turnstiles was exemplary in shocking circumstances”.

Liverpool FC said UEFA’s version of events was “totally inaccurate”.

The issues started hours before the game, as tens of thousands of Liverpool fans were directed to stand under a bridge close to the stadium, where they waited for hours.

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