French riot police fired tear gas and pepper spray at Liverpool supporters forced to endure long waits to enter the Champions League final in Paris which was delayed by 37 minutes as security stood by debated with frustrated crowds.
As Liverpool lost Europe’s showpiece game of the season to Real Madrid 1-0 at the Stade de France on Saturday night, competition organizers UEFA blamed the blocking of turnstiles on thousands of supporters who bought counterfeit notes.
Liverpool have said they are “extremely disappointed” with the safety issues faced by their fans and called for an official investigation.
In the early hours of Sunday, the Paris police said they had made 68 arrests in connection with the match. Local media report that 238 interventions were carried out by firefighters for minor injuries.
The delayed final kicked off despite fans still trying to get through ticket checks.
Fresh tear gas canisters were fired by riot police from inside the security perimeter at people outside the fences. Police and stewards were seen falling to the ground, overwhelmed by clouds of noxious gas.
“Children cry, people trapped”
Fan Colm Lacey saw “kids crying, people trapped” outside the entrances.
“People started jumping the queue, then they opened the door and then there was a push,” Lacey said.
About 15 minutes before the scheduled 9 p.m. kick-off, an announcement was made that there would be a delay, blaming the late arrival of supporters at the stadium.
“We’ve been at this gate since 6.15am,” Liverpool fan Angela Murphy said through a fence.
“I have very bad asthma and I was gassed twice. I really have a hard time.
When asked what caused the tear gas, Murphy replied, “Nothing, we’re here. There was nothing. It’s just awful. We behaved well.
Police with batons and riot shields ran from door to door to prevent pockets of supporters from forcing entry into the stadium without showing tickets.
A police officer collapsed to the ground and had to be assisted by other officers. Officers used tear gas on Liverpool fans on several occasions.
UEFA said it was “sympathetic to those affected” and announced an urgent examination by French police and authorities as well as the French Football Federation.
Fraudulent tickets were not scanning
“During the match, the turnstiles on the Liverpool side were blocked by thousands of fans who bought fake tickets which did not work in the turnstiles,” UEFA said in a statement.
“This created a backlog of fans trying to get in. As a result, kick-off was delayed by 35 minutes to allow as many fans as possible with genuine tickets to gain access.
“As the number of people outside the stadium continued to pile up after kick-off, the police dispersed them with tear gas and forced them away from the stadium.”
Liverpool have expressed serious concern.
“We are extremely disappointed with the stadium entry issues and breach of security perimeter that Liverpool supporters have faced,” the club said in a statement. “It’s the biggest game in European football and fans shouldn’t have to experience the scenes we witnessed tonight.”
The scenes were reminiscent of the chaos outside Wembley Stadium ahead of last year’s European Championship final.