There were chaotic scenes ahead of Saturday’s Champions League final, with long queues to enter the Stade de France, people seen breaching fences, reports of robbery and pickpocketing by locals and police using tear gas on supporters.
While UEFA has blamed “thousands of fans with fake tickets” for causing the delays, Liverpool have called for a formal investigation into the events, citing “unacceptable issues” for supporters.
Here, Sky Sports News reporters and Liverpool fans who were there give their accounts of the disturbing circumstances ahead of Real Madrid’s win over Liverpool…
‘The first time I’ve felt my life was in danger at a match’
Liverpool supporter, Matthew Davies:
“Absolutely terrifying night. Scary scenes down at the turnstiles as people were crushed at barriers. Young French individuals were storming the gates causing chaos with police. First time I’ve ever felt my life was in danger at a match.”
‘I was tear-gassed and almost robbed’
Liverpool supporter, Joshua Wilkins:
“I’m a bit shaken up after it all. On our way out we were tear-gassed, someone tried to pickpocket me and someone also tried to nick my watch. I had to physically hit them off my arm and trap their hand in a metro gate to get away. Real Madrid fans were also getting robbed as well as Liverpool fans.”
‘I’d never go away in France again’
Liverpool supporter Sean:
Myself and my wife turned up an hour and a half before kick-off, which in any other event is early! We queued for nearly two hours and during that time we were tear gassed and squashed in a small space. It was a very scary experience. I’d never go away in France again.
‘We were robbed twice’
Liverpool supporter Ewan:
“Before the game we entered the stadium with no problems. After the game me and my partner were robbed twice walking across the canal bridge. Phone, bank cards and ID gone. Whole experience was awful. First and last time in Paris for us.”
‘I’ve been going to Europe for 25 years and never witnessed anything like it’
Liverpool supporter Mark E:
“Organised gangs robbed us of our watches! They targeted the elderly and picked people off on our way to the Stade de France Metro station. Been going to Europe for 25 years and never witnessed anything like it.”
‘Local French boys were climbing fences so the police used tear gas indiscriminately’
Kaveh Solhekol, Sky Sports News chief reporter:
“It was just bad planning, bad organisation and also very, very aggressive policing. [UEFA said] the game was delayed because Liverpool supporters had been arriving late. I don’t think that is the case at all. We were outside the stadium and for three or four hours before the game, there were a lot of Liverpool supporters outside the stadium. There is no way from what I saw that you could say that Liverpool supporters arrived late for that game.
“The second message that UEFA got out was apparently the problems were caused by thousands of Liverpool supporters trying to get in with fake tickets. That is not what I saw with my own eyes. Yes, of course there will have been some people trying to get in with fake tickets, but I did not see thousands of people trying to get in with fake tickets.
“I think the problem [the French police] had last night was not with Liverpool or Madrid supporters but with local French youths who were trying to get into the ground. It was very, very noticeable. All round the stadium there were hundreds of young French men hanging around, fighting with the police, involved in running battles with the riot police. I did not see any Real Madrid or Liverpool supporters involved in any of that trouble whatsoever.
“Some supporters were climbing some of the fences to get inside the stadium. The people I saw doing that were not Liverpool supporters. I didn’t see supporters wearing Liverpool shirts doing that. What I saw was Liverpool supporters arriving early, behaving very, very well doing nothing wrong.
“I saw the police stopping them getting near the ground. The walkway that those 20,000 Liverpool supporters had to walk up is not fit for purpose. It was just too small and then incredibly, the police had decided to park three or four police vans across it to make it even smaller. So Liverpool supporters only had a tiny gap to get through, and once they’ve queued for something like two hours to get through that tiny gap and get onto the concourse of the stadium, then they were just standing there and doing nothing because the gates that they were supposed to use to get into the ground kept opening and closing and the process for fans to get inside the stadium was so slow so.
“There were local French boys trying to climb the fences to get in the stadium and that led to the French riot police using tear gas indiscriminately and they were using pepper spray indiscriminately as well. We were caught up in that. We just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. It really wasn’t a nice experience at all.”
‘Fans were begging the police for help. The police responded by tear-gassing fans’
Melissa Reddy, Sky Sports News senior reporter:
“I was reporting on the build up of fans arriving into the stadium, the turnstiles just being opened and the mood was very joyous. Real Madrid and Liverpool fans were mingling, singing songs together, taking pictures. Jovial scenes and fitting for a European cup final.
“I went into the media area but then started to get messages from Liverpool fans I know saying ‘it’s quite dangerous outside’. Our cameraman went and got a lot of footage. It was such poor crowd management and organisation.
“The fact there were no pre-ticket checks meant locals were joining this mass and had been pickpocketing fans, trying to pull off tickets and aggressively take pictures of QR codes.
“I spoke to police and they said there were issues with locals trying to gain entry into the stadium. However the footage our cameraman got is of ordinary fans, children, women begging the police for help because they were among these local guys who were being antagonistic and forceful. The police responded by tear-gassing fans.
“You could sense the Liverpool fans inside the stadium were very preoccupied about what was happening outside, there was no atmosphere, it was so flat, there was no celebratory mood. I know a lot of club staff who had tickets and couldn’t get in and these were tickets they got from Liverpool. Andy Robertson’s friend couldn’t get in with a ticket from the player himself.
“The reaction to the flawed strategy was to be antagonistic rather than to pivot and relieve any of the pressure and chaos that was happening.”