French interior minister Gérald Darmanin has offered an apology to Liverpool fans for the distressing scenes at the Champions League final in Paris.
Liverpool fans were initially blamed by the French authorities for the chaos outside the ground ahead of the 1-0 defeat to Real Madrid, which saw thousands of supporters locked out and then tear-gassed by police.
France’s sports minister Amelie Oudea-Castera and Minister of the Interior Gerald Darmanin both said ticketless fans or supporters with forgeries trying to get in were the cause of the trouble.
However, there have been numerous eyewitness accounts of major congestion problems on the approach to the stadium and patient fans being locked out for almost an hour amid issues with scanning tickets.
Having testified before the senate that some supporters arrived late, some were intoxicated and around 40,000 tried to enter the stadium with no tickets or fake tickets in “massive fraud on an industrial scale,” Darmanin has now climbed down.
Darmanin did not retract his claims, but the evidence presented by the Liverpool Disabled Supporters chair Ted Morris and Spirit of Shankly’s Joe Blott last week has forced him to admit “poor management” of the showpiece.
“Could the Stade de France have been better managed? The answer is yes,” he told RTL in France.
“Do I have some responsibility for that? The answer is yes. I apologise to those who who suffered from this poor management.
“It is certain we have changes to make to the organisation.”
Darmanin shifted blame to the “delinquency in Saint-Denis”.
In response, Spirit of Shankly said: “No one should underestimate the significance of this. One week after the truth was told by the Liverpool Disabled Supporters Association and ourselves an apology has followed.
“While this is obviously welcome as a first and much-needed positive step, deflecting blame is not acceptable and greater sincerity is still required. Our basic demand remains unaltered – a fully independent investigation is essential.”
Paris police chief apologises for tear-gassing Liverpool fans at CL final
Paris police chief Didier Lallement admitted that the managing of the final was “obviously a failure, because people were being pushed around or assaulted while we owed them safety”.
Lallement apologised for tear-gassing supporters, who were waiting to enter the Champions League final at the Stade de France.
Speaking at the French Senate, he said was sorry for authorising the use of tear gas but felt he had no other option under the circumstances.
Lallement said: “It is obviously a failure. It was a failure because people were pushed around and attacked. It was a failure because the image of the country was undermined.”
Lallement also admitted his early estimate of 30,000 to 40,000 fans without tickets or with fake tickets was probably inaccurate.
“Perhaps I was wrong,” he said. “Whether there were 40,000, 30,000 or 20,000, it didn’t change the fact that there were tens of thousands of people who could not fit in.”
Lallement also admitted his decision to remove a filtration barrier to avoid congestion had seemingly allowed “undesirables” without tickets to get to the stadium gates.
“There were 300 or 400 people who did not seem to be fans. I don’t know if they were people from the housing estates around the stadium,” he added.
“Is this a type of delinquent population that we meet in Seine-Saint-Denis? Yes, it happens, but we also meet them in the north of Paris.”
Liverpool to meet chair of UEFA’s CL final review
Police chief Lallement’s apology came after it was revealed Liverpool officials would meet the chair of UEFA’s review into problems at the Champions League final in an attempt to help satisfy themselves the process will be fully independent.
European football’s governing body appointed the Portuguese politician Dr Tiago Brandao Rodrigues to carry out an inquiry into the circumstances which saw huge congestion issues which led to thousands of fans being locked out of the Stade de France and some being tear-gassed by police prior to Real Madrid’s 1-0 win.
However, there have been suggestions Rodrigues has links to UEFA president Aleksandar Ceferin and Liverpool are understood to be keen to ascertain the independence and scope of his review.
Officials also want full explanations to 13 questions they submitted to UEFA, only some of which have been partially answered, and details of which experts will be involved on the panel before they can make a decision on whether Rodrigues is the right person to lead the review.
It is understood UEFA, which has pledged unconditional access to its files and staff, has outlined its rationale for appointing Rodrigues but has not provided specific responses to the questions posed by the club.
Liverpool hope a meeting with the chair of the review panel, who will also meet Real Madrid officials separately, will provide more extensive answers.
Sources say they are keen to establish the process will be a thorough, independent and transparent investigation as they are unconvinced by the “independent review” terminology.