Liverpool demanded a formal investigation after supporters were tear gas outside the Stade de France, but UEFA blamed the Champions League delay on the “late arrival” of fans.
But this version of events was hotly debated by those present in Paris, including journalists and Sky Sports reporters inside the stadium.
Sky Sports News chief reporter Kaveh Solhekol was among a group of supporters who were targeted with tear gas, while chaos continued in front of the prominent fixture in which Jurgen Klopp’s side faced Spanish champions Real Madrid, with the game later on. almost 40 minutes late. .
Liverpool called for a “formal investigation” to investigate what happened outside the stadium.
“We are extremely disappointed with the problems with the entrance of the stadium and the disruption of the security perimeter that Liverpool fans met this evening at the Stade de France,” said the club. ‘This is the best match in European football and supporters should not have experienced the scenes we witnessed tonight.
‘We have officially requested a formal investigation into the causes of these unacceptable issues.’
Stadium authorities blame “late arrivals” despite hour-long queues
An announcement posted on the big screens inside the Stade de France initially blamed fans for the delay, with the message read: “Due to the late arrival of fans to the stadium, the match has been postponed.”
But Sky Sports News’ Senior reporter Melissa Reddy countered: “Supporters lined up for more than two hours outside. There are countless witnesses to how this evening unfolded amid a terrible organization.”
Reddy had already tweeted almost 40 minutes before the scheduled start time of 20:00: “Reports of those stranded outside the stadium – and footage flowing through as well – of poor organization and communication, dangerously narrow routes with police vans no longer unnecessarily blocking space. All of it creating uncomfortable , an unwanted situation. “
Sky Sports presenter Kelly Cates, present at the final as a supporter, also encrypted: “Absolutely swaying at the Stade de France. No way to enter, no way to know which way to go. Stay safe if you enter … It has the potential to be very dangerous. “
And former England captain Gary Lineker posted: “I’m not sure it’s possible to have a worse-organized event if you try. Absolutely shabby and dangerous.”
What happened off the ground?
La Related Press reported “sporadic incidents of fans, apparently without tickets, breaking through security and trying to enter the stadium”.
The agency reported seeing two fans – one wearing Liverpool clothing – struggling to the ground by stewards and bundled out of the gates. Another fan avoided stewards and was seen sprinting through the concourse and into the bottom level of the stadium.
Solhekol: We were tear gas for no reason
Kaveh Solhekol of Sky Sports News at the Stade de France
“In the last few minutes, three of my crew and I were in tears for no reason from the French police. It was a pretty bad experience, but we solved it by getting a few bottles of water and pouring it into our eyes. We’re all fine.
“The situation here is a bit strange. I think what happened was that a lot of people came to the stadium without tickets. They seem to be young, French people just grinding around and trying to break through the security cords.
“From what I’ve seen, even at the Liverpool fan park, the attitude of the French police has been very heavy with absolutely zero tolerance. They don’t care how much romance develops and they insist on looking for absolutely everyone. Before they let them through. .
“We had a situation at the fan park this afternoon where a number of Liverpool fans lined up for three hours to enter a free event. There were three, four, five crossings where they were being held and searched.
“We had the same situation at the stadium tonight. There are so many police, riot police and security guards here and their way of thinking was to prevent anyone without a ticket from coming anywhere near the stadium.
“The situation is complicated because we’re not just talking about paper tickets, we’re talking about in modern times, people have passwords on their phones. They couldn’t bring the right passwords or find their passwords. We saw people in tears because they were swept away by their e-tickets were stolen from them.
“Until the police and security here [at the Stade de France] they are anxious, they do not care. They don’t want anyone near the stadium if they don’t have tickets. I am now walking through the streets and it is full of young, French people trying to find a way into the security cordon.
“I can only say from what I myself saw as an eyewitness, but I didn’t see any Liverpool supporters causing a problem at all. I didn’t see them appear late, I was quite shocked at how early supporters came to the stadium.
“We arrived here about four hours before the start, hoping it would be fairly quiet. But it was like an hour before the start because so many people arrived early and on time. I would be very careful when I read statements from UEFA that blame the delay of the start and the problems outside the stadium due to the late arrival of fans.That is not the case according to what I saw.
“I saw some fans trying to trick their way past security guards and the police and all those supporters. It was one of those events where we were caught when we were tear gas, a group of riot police tried to eject. Some Real Madrid supporters who tried to cross the cordon without tickets.
“There was some confrontation between the Spanish supporters and the riot police, and then they released the tear gas and we happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
“But I have to stress again – with my own eyes, I haven’t seen any Liverpool supporters cause any problems or problems.”