The UK government supports Liverpool Football Club’s calls for an investigation into fan trouble that occurred ahead of Saturday’s Champions League final in Paris.
Saturday’s final was delayed by 35 minutes as French police used tear gas against fans attempting to enter the stadium. The police closed the stadium gates and prevented legitimate and illegitimate supporters from entering. According to several reports, only around half of Liverpool fans had reached the stadium by the time that the delayed kickoff was over.
On the BBC’s Today Programme this morning, the Labour MP Ian Byrne, who was present at Saturday’s match, described a “hostile environment”, which saw fans treated “like animals”. Mr Byrne said that the scenes were similar to the 1989 Hillsborough disaster. He is a strong supporter of Liverpool Football Club and was present at the Hillsborough tragedy where his father was hurt.
Responding to the events, Culture Secretary, Nadine Dorries tweeted on Saturday night, calling on local and football authorities to address the “troubling reports”:
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“Very concerned for all involved. I hope the French authorities will do what they can to help.amp; @UEFA will be able to resolve the problems asap and ensure everyone gets to enjoy the night safely.”
In the aftermath of the final, Dorries has demanded an investigation, saying, “It is in the interests of everyone involved to understand what happened and to learn lessons from these events”.
Liverpool football club also released a statement calling for an inquiry, with the European football governing body, UEFA, also commenting, “Uefa is sympathetic to those affected by these events and will further review these matters urgently together with the French police and authorities and with the French Football Federation.”
The British government’s approach is similar to that of French authorities. In what can be regarded as further notch to the rope of current strained Anglo-French relations, the French sports minister Amélie Oudéa-Castéra has blamed a “mass gathering” of fans with “fake tickets” for the chaos outside the Stade de France.
Oudéa-Castéra also noted that “a certain number of youths from the nearby areaW were also present and had tried to gain access to the stadium by mixing in with the crowd.