“I don’t want to be here anymore”: harrowing scenes from Paris in the run-up to Champions League final subject of French-English welles-nietesgame

The Champions League final started on Saturday with quite a bit of delay, after scenes outside the stadium were not seen for a long time. The fault of the Liverpool fans, the French say. The fault of the organisers, the English say.

jvhBron: Daily Mail, BBC, reuters

“Daddy, I don’t want to be here anymore.” The fear in the eyes of Maxwell Pearce (11) says everything about what happened on Saturday night around the Stade de France in Paris. “He thought he was going to die,” his father told the British press. Another Liverpool fan described the scenes in Paris as “a war zone”.

Thousands of Liverpool fans formed a drumming crowd in the run-up to the Champions League final. Some English fans – ticketed or not – tried to escape the drumming by climbing over the fences, but that in turn provoked a reaction from the French police. Innocent fans who did have a ticket for the match were also given tear gas in the face. Like the 9-year-old son of author Carl Clemente, whose images went viral this weekend.

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In the meantime, a yes-no game about the culprits for the debacle is brewing above the heads of the fans. The French police and the European football association UEFA emphasized several times on Saturday that many fans tried to reach the stadium without a ticket. For that reason, access would also be temporarily closed. The Liverpool fans are also said to have made it to the stadium in large numbers. That story was repeated on Monday by French Sports Minister Amelie Oudea-Castera. She also points out that there were no problems with Real Madrid fans.

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British counter reaction

But that narrative is now being denied by many Liverpool fans. They point the finger at the aggressive French police, a lack of organization, and provocations by French youth gangs who screwed up law enforcement.

Liverpool player Andy Robertson told the BBC on Monday that a friend was denied entry to the stadium because he allegedly had a counterfeit ticket. “I can assure you that his ticket was nothing fake: he got it from me,” said Robertson.

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The British press is now making comparisons with the Hillsborough drama from 1989, when 97 Liverpool fans were killed by drumming in the stands. According to British tabloids at the time, the death toll was the fault of Liverpool hooligans, but an investigation showed that the organization was flawed and that the emergency services had also made a mistake.

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The British government and Liverpool have now asked France and UEFA for an official investigation. The French Ministry of Sport, the French police, and representatives of the French Football Association and UEFA are already holding talks on Monday. Amelie Oudea-Castera says she hopes to “learn lessons for our major sporting events” from that consultation.

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