Liverpool Chairman Tom Werner has demanded an apology from the French sports minister after she said fans with fake tickets and the club’s handling of their supporters were responsible for the trouble that marred Saturday’s Champions League final.
The match at the Stade de France, which Real Madrid won 1-0, was delayed by more than half an hour after police tried to hold off people trying to force their way into the ground. Some fans, including children, were tear-gassed by French riot police.
On Monday, sports minister Amelie Oudea-Castera said that the initial problems were caused by Liverpool fans without valid tickets and accused the club of letting their supporters “out in the wild”.
French interior minister Gerald Darmanin added that there had been a “massive (ticket) fraud on an industrial scale”.
Werner hit back late on Monday in a letter to Oudea-Castera, describing her comments as “irresponsible, unprofessional, and wholly disrespectful” to the fans affected.
“The UEFA Champions League final should be one of the finest spectacles in world sport, and instead it devolved into one of the worst security collapses in recent memory,” Werner was quoted as saying by the Liverpool Echo newspaper.
“On behalf of all the fans who experienced this nightmare I demand an apology from you, and assurance that the French authorities and UEFA allow an independent and transparent investigation to proceed.”
UEFA has commissioned an independent inquiry into the incident while Oudea-Castera said they would produce a report within 10 days.
In an interview to the Liverpool website, CEO Billy Hogan said they were also reviewing legal options available to them on behalf of their supporters.
Hogan said later on Tuesday that the club had received over 5,000 responses after asking affected fans to fill out a form as they sought evidence.
“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,” Hogan said.
“It’s also important we don’t lose sight of what happened after the match.
“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.”
Hogan said he had also asked UEFA for their matchday log to take a look at medical incidents recorded so they can reach out to those respective supporters.
European football’s governing body has apologized to fans “who had to experience or witness frightening or distressing events” at the Champions League final in Paris last weekend, and said it will hold an inquiry into what happened.
In a statement, UEFA said that “no football fan should be put in that situation, and it must not happen again.”
UEFA said it had commissioned an “independent review” to “identify shortcomings and responsibilities of all entities involved in the organisation of the final.” It said that fans who attended the game will be able to fill in a questionnaire about their experiences.
Earlier Friday, Real Madrid demanded “answers and explanations” for the mayhem that tarnished the showpiece game.
Fans of both Real Madrid and Liverpool were crushed, pepper-sprayed and beaten by French police, amid chaotic scenes outside the Stade de France that saw kickoff delayed by 35 minutes and “caused outrage around the world,” Real Madrid said in a statement.
One official connected to Real Madrid told POLITICO the club was particularly “shocked and disappointed” by the French government’s instant blaming of Liverpool fans for the chaos.
French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin and Sports Minister Amélie Oudéa-Castéra claimed Liverpool fans had attempted to use around 30,000-40,000 fake tickets to gain entry to the stadium. The New York Times later reported that the true total number of fake tickets at the game was 2,589.
Liverpool vociferously objected to Darmanin and Oudéa-Castéra’s line of argument, given echoes of how Liverpool fans were treated by the British establishment in the aftermath of the 1989 Hillsborough stadium tragedy, which killed 97 people.
Real Madrid has joined the chorus of criticism over the logistical failures in Paris after some days of gathering testimony and witness accounts.
“We ask for answers and explanations that determine who was responsible for leaving the fans helpless and defenseless. Some followers whose general behavior was at all times exemplary,” the club said.
“Our followers and fans deserve a response and that the relevant responsibilities be cleared up so that situations like the ones experienced are eradicated forever from football and sport,” it added.
Real Madrid won the match 1-0, thanks to a second-half goal from Vinícius Júnior.