French sports minister blames Liverpool FC for letting fans ‘out in the wild’

France’s new Sports Minister Amélie Oudéa-Castéra on Monday doubled down on blaming Liverpool Football Club and its supporters for the chaos which marred Saturday night’s Champions League final near Paris.

“The fact that the Real Madrid club has supervised the coming of its supporters to Paris to such an extent, by scheduling buses from the airport and organizing everything from start to finish — which contrasted sharply with what the Liverpool club did, letting its supporters out in the wild — made a huge difference,” Oudéa-Castéra told RTL, in provocative remarks.

Oudéa-Castéra will meet with European football’s governing body UEFA and local authorities later Monday to review the troubling scenes from outside the Stade de France, which occurred before Real Madrid defeated Liverpool in a game that was delayed by 35 minutes due to blockages of fans outside. Crowds of mostly Liverpool supporters remained stuck at checkpoints around the stadium, with French police using batons and tear gas to dispel fans who were queuing to get in to Europe’s premier sporting event.

But fan group leaders are deeply unimpressed with the French government’s response. Ronan Evain, executive director of Football Supporters Europe who observed the mayhem in Saint-Denis, hit back at Oudéa-Castéra’s attempt to shift the blame.

“There is a problem with how French authorities organized the game — and now they’re deflecting to Liverpool fans,” he said. “They want to avoid taking responsibility for what happened.”

“There is a refusal [by the French authorities] to acknowledge that the Liverpool fans are the victims here,” Evain added. “They tear gassed elderly people and kids. You owe them an apology.”

In a report for the French interior ministry obtained by POLITICO’s Playbook Paris, Paris police chief Didier Lallement blamed the chaos on “important failures from the organizers to handle British fans” and the “late, massive incoming of British fans due to the strike” of the Paris transport operator. 

He also claimed that 30,000-40,000 people came to the stadium either ticketless or with fake tickets. Organizer UEFA said thousands of fans who had bought counterfeit tickets blocked the turnstiles at the Liverpool end, creating a jam.

The use of tear gas was “unfortunately necessary,” Lallement wrote in his report, adding that he “deeply regrets that several attendees may have been inconvenienced.”

Evain dismissed the French authorities’ fake tickets claim as having “no reflection of reality.” 

Reports of families and disabled supporters being struck and tear gassed have sparked outrage in Liverpool and the U.K., with both the club and the government calling for an official investigation into what happened. “The footage and accounts from Liverpool fans and the media on their entry to the Stade de France last night are deeply concerning,” U.K. Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries said Sunday.

Pauline de Saint Remy and Ali Walker contributed reporting.



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