'Paris should be ashamed' - Fan accounts of police aggression, 'UEFA's incompetence' & the Champions League final as it unfolded 😱
A season that promised so much was marred by horrific scenes in the French capital
This was a season that promised so much for Liverpool fans but one that ended with many escaping from the Stade de France fearing for their personal safety and that of their friends, family and fellow supporters.
Reports of police forces charging those attending and using tear gas without being provoked have been well-evidenced in footage taken before and after the Champions League final contested between Liverpool and Real Madrid.
Speaking to EOTK Insider, a number of supporters shared their stories from the French capital.
“Kids crying. Their mums crying. Crying saying they wanna go home. Blokes being fairly calm in circumstances,” Anees Ikramullah, a senior lecturer, told EOTK. “Two to three hours waiting around at locked gates.... Out of nowhere gassed. No charging, no pushing, just pure disgraceful behaviour.”
When questioned about any warning provided by French police or any form of communication before the use of tear gas, the Liverpool supporter replied with: “ZERO.”
“We stood there... Waiting,” Ikramullah continued.
“They had the gates open but no one was getting through. And then from about 15 yards away we just see them shut the gates.
“Everyone's kinda having their frustrated chats around them but nothing much.
“Got kids crying saying they wanna go home.
“Then around 8:45pm, so 15mins before kick-off, no explanation still. They spray. Then we find out through the fans the game is delayed. Still no communication. No message told to the fans right by the gates.
“Then got sprayed a second time. No warning at all.
“At this point we moved a bit back and then a tiny gate opened [on the right of the image below]. We got in for the lineups but loads didn't.”
[Picture courtesy of Anees Ikramullah - the small gate on the far right was opened to admit Liverpool fans]
The apparent lack of organisation and communication around fan admission was a tale sadly shared by several others in Paris.
“Pepper sprayed. Kept outside for two hours, no information or anything,” Daniel Hughes told EOTK. “After we got in maybe two minutes later there was a huge chase and riot shields and everything were brought out.”
One fan, who wished to keep their account anonymous, noted there were some fears of trouble being stirred up by locals: “Was a disgrace outside the ground from start to finish.”
“I arrived around the stadium two hours before kick-off, got to the first and only ticket check, unlike Kiev and Madrid where there were about six checks. Then got around the turnstiles about 7:20 where gate Z was already shut and no one had a clue why.
“I went to back of line and waited for a bit then there were groups of locals climbing the fence and no Liverpool fans at this point.
“I then walked to where I could see the entrance to Z and it was still shut, so I went to an entrance where there was one turnstile open out of five and this was a massive queue which was moving very slowly.
“I could see entrance B was all shut as well. During queuing to get in entrance A there were women and children crying and many people scared, including myself being shaken up by what I had seen.”
This experience was corrobated by another fan, Ashley, appearing at her first European final with her husband: “Chaos. Arrived nearly three hours before kick-off. Our turnstile did not open until 8.15pm.
“Liverpool fans were calm. French ticket-less youths were climbing security fences and generally looking for trouble.
“Police were useless and no stewards to be seen. No-one should be scared at a football game, at times I was.
“It should have been an enjoyable night but it was ruined by UEFA’s incompetence.”
Inside the Stade de France there were mixed tales of relief tinged with fear at the prospect of having to emerge from the stadium, particularly given how police forces in riot gear were positioned in front of the Liverpool end towards the closing stages of the fixture - a decision bizarrely not replicated at the Real Madrid end.
“Whole thing just stunk of trying to antagonise us into a story,” Anees noted on the topic of intimidatory tactics utilised by French police.
After Real Madrid secured their 14th Champions League title in a 1-0 win over Liverpool, fans’ misfortune continued right after the tie as many attempted to evade aggressors outside the stadium.
“Local gangs were “meeting” fans as we all came out of the stadium,” one fan, who wished to be kept unnamed, told EOTK Insider.
“Grown Liverpool men running away in fear and police doing nothing!
“I got hit by one of the French gangs swiping at people.
“Saw a few people trying to stop pickpocketers who were running away too.
“This was after the match as well and it wasn’t Real Madrid fans. Not seeing much about the scenes after!
“It’s crazy! I’ve been to three finals now and never seen anything like it! The locals were just wanting trouble.”
One local fan from Paris, Philippe Saba, blamed some of the scenes after the match on the choice of location: “The fanzone was too far from the stadium, the Kop found it difficult to enter the stadium. The Kop wasn’t at full voice today, unfortunately.”
“I am from Paris, but where the final was located it’s the suburbs called Saint-Denis. As Thierry Henry said, trust me - it’s not Paris. It’s full of people looking to harm and do bad things.
“The organisation was catastrophic. Paris should be ashamed.”
We know that Liverpool Football Club have already requested a formal investigation into the causes behind the horrifying scenes many have already witnessed in person or online.
What’s clear from several accounts on the night, despite the speculation from those outside of Paris, is that fans largely behaved impeccably despite immense pressure from those in authority - countless many of which must be held to account for their deplorable handling of a major sporting event.