The 2022 Uefa Champions League final will not be remembered for Real Madrid beating Liverpool 1-0 to win the biggest prize in European club football for a record-extending 14th time. Nor will it be remembered for Vinícius Jr’s 59th-minute winner or the heroic man-of-the-match performance of Real goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.
In the days after the final in Paris the major talking points are all focused on what happened off the pitch – and in particular the chaotic scenes outside the Stade de France in the hours building up to the showpiece fixture.
‘Widespread concern and confusion’
As the scheduled 8pm (BST) starting time approached thousands of Liverpool supporters were still waiting to get inside the ground. The kick-off was delayed by 36 minutes, with European football’s governing body Uefa initially citing the “late arrival” of Liverpool fans.
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Many ticket-holders were left “stranded” outside the stadium and footage also emerged of riot police using tear gas, said The Telegraph. Gates were closed and fans were then directed into “narrow bottlenecks”, causing “severe congestion and widespread concern and confusion”.
Merseyside Police, who were on the ground in Paris in an advisory capacity, said the Liverpool supporters were “100%” not late and the behaviour of the fans at the turnstiles was “exemplary in shocking circumstances”. In a tweet an officer said it was the “worst European match I’ve ever worked or experienced”.
‘People’s safety was put at risk’
The biggest game in club football was “wrecked by incompetence and shocking mismanagement”, said Dominic King in the Daily Mail. “It was appalling” and the “anger that ripped through the Liverpool fans was intense”. They were “not the only ones put in jeopardy by abysmal organisation” though, as Real Madrid fans experienced similar issues.
In the aftermath of the scenes in Paris, French sports minister Amelie Oudea-Castera has blamed a “mass gathering” of supporters with “fake tickets” for the chaos, the BBC reported. Liverpool fans have criticised the French police response and UK Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries has described the scenes as “deeply concerning”.
Uefa has been accused of a “narrative of lies” to blame Liverpool fans for the Champions League final trouble, said The Telegraph. After another day of “toxic fall-out”, it has been revealed that disabled and blind supporters were among those tear-gassed by French police.
Liverpool CEO Billy Hogan has called for a “full and transparent” independent investigation to help establish the facts. “It’s absolutely imperative that we understand what happened and how we got into that situation where people’s safety was put at risk,” he said.
‘Horrendous for our fans and families’
Fans of the Anfield club compared their “terrifying” treatment in Paris to the Hillsborough disaster, The Guardian reported. Some described seeing people scared for their lives, with children “trembling with fear”, as French police fired tear gas into crowds. Liverpool supporter David Hughes said the shambolic organisation and attempts to blame the fans “echoes” the April 1989 disaster, in which his father died. “The first thing they do is blame the fans,” he told The Guardian. “They seriously need to have a good look at themselves. You can’t have 20,000 fans coming under two columns under a subway. Unfortunately, we’ve had experience of that in the past and it doesn’t work.”
In his post-match interview Liverpool left-back Andrew Robertson criticised Uefa and called the governing body’s organisation a “shambles”. The Scot revealed that one of his friends was told his ticket was a fake, “which I assure you it wasn’t”, he said. “To be honest people were just making it up at times and panicking. It was horrendous for our fans and all families that have been through it as well. It wasn’t a nice experience, not a nice final to come to. The Champions League should be a celebration but it wasn’t that.”
Writing in The Telegraph, former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher called Uefa’s attempt to blame fans “a disgrace” and said it was “time they came clean”.
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