UCL hearings: Kallen keeps focus on Liverpool fans as French wise up to wider issues

By Samindra Kunti

June 22 – European governing body UEFA has doubled down on blaming Liverpool fans over the Stade de France fiasco at the Champions League final in June, but following testimonies from both Liverpool and Real Madrid fans the French senate is considering launching a full investigation into the scenes of dangerous chaos outside the Paris venue. 

UEFA has previously apologised to fans for the disorder at the final, UEFA’s annual showpiece club match, but in a French senate hearing UEFA’s Martin Kallen, the organisation’s director-general of UEFA Events, once again blamed Liverpool supporters for what happened, suggesting fake tickets, ticketless fans and poor behaviour led to the disorganisation.

“Risk evaluation before the match told us that there was a high risk of a pitch invasion and a high risk of a lot of fake tickets,” said Kallen.

“We were warned a lot of people without tickets would try to enter the stadium,” said Kallen. “In the past two finals with Liverpool there were fans who wanted to get into the stadium with fake or no tickets. We knew that in advance.”

Kallen referred to the 2018 Kyiv and 2019 Madrid finals when little to no problems occurred. He however failed to produce any evidence to back up all his claims. He did say that the French claim of 30,000-40,000 fake tickets in circulation was not correct. “We do not agree with the 30-40,000 fake tickets figure given very quickly by the French authorities,” explained Kallen. “But there were more than 2,600.”

Some French senators shifted the blame away from the fans. One said: “Counterfeit tickets were not the main problem. There was the transport strike, the flow management problems, the interventions of the police, and problems of delinquency around the stadium. Speaking only of forgeries is not right.”

Co-chairman of the French senate commission Francois Noel Buffet said: “English fans were not responsible for incidents [at the Stade de France]. Let’s be clear and to the point: they showed great self-control in a chaotic context.”

Senators listened to a series of testimonies. For almost two hours Ted Morris of Liverpool Disabled Supporters Association, Joe Blott from the fans group Spirit of Shankly, Real Madrid fan Emilio Dumas, and Ronan Evain and Pierre Barthelemy from Football Supporters Europe addressed the senate to provide details and background of what fans experienced in and around the Stade de France at the final.

“The authorities should be ashamed,” said Morris. “They [fans] were treated like animals. They were treated with so much contempt.”

Blott said: “Ninety-seven people were killed at Hillsborough because of a failure of the authorities, namely the police. That is the truth and to hear the French authorities repeat the same kind of lies 33 years later in 2022, that fans were late and had fake tickets and were drunk, causes extreme pain and misery among English fans. It is heartbreaking for Liverpool fans around the world.”

Liverpool have collected 9,000 testimonies from fans and the club have cast doubt over the independent investigation UEFA and its chief inquisitor have launched into the incidents.

The French Senate is now considering launching its own investigation.

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