French riot police fired tear gas and pepper spray at Liverpool supporters forced to endure lengthy waits to get into the Champions League final in Paris which was delayed for 37 minutes as security struggled with frustrated crowds.
As Liverpool lost the showpiece game of the European season to Real Madrid 1-0 at the Stade de France on Saturday night, competition organisers UEFA put the blame for blocked turnstiles on thousands of fans who purchased fake tickets.
Liverpool said it was “hugely disappointed” with the security issues experienced by its fans and called for a formal investigation.
In the early hours of Sunday, Paris police said they carried out 68 arrests in connection to the match. Local media reported that 238 interventions were carried out by firefighters for minor injuries.
The delayed final kicked off despite fans still trying to get through ticket checks.
Fresh rounds of tear gas were fired by riot police from inside the security perimeter at people outside the fences. Police and stewards were seen falling to the ground, overcome by billowing clouds of noxious gas.
‘Children crying, people trapped’
Supporter Colm Lacey saw “children crying, people trapped” outside the entrances.
“People started jumping the queue, then they ripped the gate open and then there was a push,” Lacey said.
About 15 minutes before the scheduled 9pm kickoff, an announcement was made that there would be a delay, blaming the late arrival of fans to the stadium.
“We’ve been stood at this gate since 6:15,” Liverpool supporter Angela Murphy said through a fence.
“I’ve got really bad asthma and I’ve been tear gassed twice. I’m really struggling.”
Asked what provoked the tear-gassing, Murphy replied: “Nothing, we’re stood here. There was nothing. It’s just been horrendous. We have been well behaved.”
Police officers with batons and riot shields ran from gate to gate to prevent pockets of fans forcing their way into the stadium without showing tickets.
One policeman collapsed to the ground and had to be helped by other officers. Officers used tear gas on Liverpool fans on repeated occasions.
UEFA said it was “sympathetic to those affected” and announced an urgent review by French police and authorities along with the French Football Federation.
Scam tickets wouldn’t scan
“In the lead-up to the game, the turnstiles at the Liverpool end became blocked by thousands of fans who purchased fake tickets which did not work in the turnstiles,” UEFA said in a statement.
“This created a buildup of fans trying to get in. As a result, the kickoff was delayed by 35 minutes to allow as many fans as possible with genuine tickets to gain access.
“As numbers outside the stadium continued to build up after kickoff, the police dispersed them with tear gas and forced them away from the stadium.”
Liverpool has expressed strong concern.
“We are hugely disappointed at the stadium entry issues and breakdown of the security perimeter that Liverpool fans faced,” the club said in a statement. “This is the greatest match in European football and supporters should not have to experience the scenes we have witnessed tonight.”
The scenes were reminiscent of the chaos outside Wembley Stadium before the European Championship final last year.