July 14 – After weeks of inquiries and blame-shifting, Liverpool fans have all but been absolved from blame for the chaos at the Champions League final in Paris last May, following the findings of a French senate report which pointed at a failure of the state and organisers.
The flagship final of the European season descended into dangerous chaos after multiple organisational failures and bad policing creating crowd bottlenecks outside the Stade de France and the English fans getting teargassed for no reason. Now, the French senate has found that Liverpool fans were unfairly and wrongly blamed for the disorder which led to kick-off being delayed by 30 minutes.
In a statement in their findings the French senate wrote: “It is unfair to have wanted to make supporters of the Liverpool team bear the responsibility for the disturbances that occurred, as the Minister of the Interior did to divert attention from the inability of the state to adequately manage the crowds present and to curb the action of several hundred violent and co-ordinated offenders.”
The report said that a “chain of events and malfunctions” in the days and hours leading up to kick-off had caused the chaotic scenes.
It read: “The systems put in place had major shortcomings with regard to the intelligence (absence of hooligans but presence of delinquents in large numbers), the transport routes for supporters (removal of a drop-off route at the surroundings of the stadium) and insufficient communication.
“It is not only in the execution that problems arose. Upstream, the crisis scenarios were insufficiently worked on and did not demonstrate the necessary flexibility in the face of so many unanticipated events.”
French authorities and UEFA had repeatedly blamed Liverpool supporters for the debacle with all of UEFA’s Martin Kallen, Paris police chief Didier Lallement, French interior minister Gérald Darmanin and sports minister Amélie Oudéa-Castéa part of a less than edifying blame game.
In a blow to France’s image, the scenes outside the Stade de France were beamed across the world.
In that respect, the report’s co-chairman Laurent Lafon added: “The gravity of what happened at the Stade de France shows that there are many decisions to be taken to ensure this doesn’t happen again at the Rugby World Cup or the Olympic Games.”
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