The series of events that caused chaos for Liverpool fans ahead of the Champions League final have been documented in a timeline video by French media.
A survey of the worlddeveloped from hundreds of amateur videos and eyewitness accounts, denounces a clear lack of organization outside the Stade de France and disputes the account of the French Minister of the Interior, Gérald Darmanin, according to which no less than 40 000 fans reportedly attempted to enter the high-profile event using fake tickets.
What should have been an unforgettable evening for Liverpool and Real Madrid supporters descended into a nightmare as supporters struggled to enter the stadium, with kick-off ultimately delayed by more than half an hour. Many of those who managed to enter were greeted with pepper spray by French police and found themselves trapped in a hostile environment with other people whose main interest was not in supporting one or the another of the clubs but to steal the personal belongings of the fans.
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Presenting its video report, Le Monde said: “Our investigation reveals that the presence of supporters without tickets or with fake tickets was real on May 28, and even expected by the French authorities. origin of the incidents around the stadium before the match.”
After setting the scene, the video begins with Gérald Darmanin explaining in a television interview that there were between 30,000 and 40,000 more people than the Stade de France can accommodate (capacity 80,000). But Le Monde specifies: “According to the hundreds of photos and videos collected and assembled by ‘Le Monde’, there is no proof of such an extreme excess of fans. Our investigation reveals, however, that the methods of organization were not properly followed. And that crowd control around the stadium proved to be insufficient.”
The report from Le Monde confirms that the French police headquarters expected 40,000 to 50,000 ticketless fans to arrive in Paris. Two fan zones have been set up for supporters of both clubs. The Real Madrid fan zone, with a capacity of 6,000, was located just a 15-minute walk from the Stade de France in Saint-Denis. The much larger Liverpool fan zone near Place de Nation could hold 44,000 people and was located much further from the stadium, closer to the center of Paris.
From there, Liverpool fans had a choice of three public transport routes to the Stade de France – Metro line 13, RED D and RER B. The French government says 110,000 people turned up at the stadium ahead of the Champions League final. the Champions League, of which 73,000 used public transport to arrive. But the government figures do not match those of public transport operators SNCF and RATP. SNCF told Le Monde that 43,200 travelers got off at RER D and B stations leading to the stadium and RATP said no similar numbers had been made at metro stations.
However, a major cause of the issues that led to massive fan congestion seems to stem from the wrong directions to the floor. A partial strike by RER B staff was announced on the day of the match. This is usually the most popular route to the stadium. As a result, fans are encouraged to travel via RER D. SNCF says 6,200 people still took RER B and 37,000 traveled on RER D, four times more than usual for a more distant line of the Stade de France.
Le Monde reports that the dramatic increase in supporters leaving the RER D is poorly managed by the organizers and the police. A card issued by UEFA advises supporters using RER D to follow the route to the ground usually taken by people arriving by the RER B route. This takes passers-by along the wide avenue du Stade de France, straight to the ground. Here, ticket verification lines are in place.
However, this is not the route most fans take. After leaving the station and initially following the advised route, a sign after just 219 meters directs supporters to turn left onto a street, well short of the suitable Stade de France avenue, causing fans to deviate from their path . The result is that masses of fans arrive at the stadium via a narrow underground tunnel under the A1 motorway and now have to reach the turnstiles via a ramped walkway on the side of the stadium.
On this route, only five ticket control lines have been prepared and this is where the problems start to develop. Unable to carry out ticket checks quickly enough, large queues begin to form from 6 p.m. Video footage shows how within an hour the crowd has swelled and supporters are effectively pinned under the flyover as staff struggle to process ticket checks efficiently. To make matters worse, police buses are placed across the route, making it even more dangerous to go through ticket control.
After a long period of waiting, tension begins to rise in the frustrated crowd, police and gendarmes arriving as reinforcements, at one point blocking the access roads. At 7:15 p.m. the situation became dangerous and the pre-ticket checkpoints were completely lifted. As fans rush to the ground, the gates of X and Y soon have huge waves of supporters outside. With the crowd pressed against the gates, the gates are closed.
This is the time for ticketless opportunists to attempt to scale the fences and enter the stadium, causing havoc for stadium security and the police. Video footage from Le Monde shows this happening and there is no evidence that it is Liverpool supporters who are accessing it illegally. The end result is that the police use tear gas on ticketed supporters in an effort to calm the crowd.
By the time the game finally begins at 9:36 p.m. local time, there are still thousands of supporters with legitimate tickets outside the stadium. But with the match in progress, Le Monde’s investigation shows there is no sign of the 30,000 to 40,000 ticketless supporters the government claims have directed to the Stade de France, but the fan zone of 44,000 Liverpool squares in Place de la Nation are full. This is confirmed by the Profecture of Police.
As fans left the stadium around 11:30 p.m. local time, netizen accounts said ‘unrelated to the game’ youths attacked and attempted to rob the fans. There is little video evidence to verify these claims, but testimonies collected by Le Monde confirm the presence of menacing gangs, with police doing little to stop hostilities. 83 people were arrested on the evening of the match.
Watch the full investigative video from Le Monde HERE.