Champions League final treatment a disgrace, Liverpool fans say

Liverpool fans have said the treatment they received from stewards and police as they tried to get into the Champions League final was an “absolute disgrace”.

Uefa delayed kick-off by 35 minutes on Saturday, citing “security issues” and problems with fans trying to get in using fake tickets.

However, many Reds supporters spoke of long queues in the hours leading up to the game and a heavy-handed police response to the build-up of fans.

Tom Whitehurst said after arriving at the ground, he had to get his disabled son “out of the way” after they were pepper-sprayed.

“The treatment of supporters by Uefa and the police was an absolute disgrace,” he said.

“[Fans] were indiscriminately pepper-sprayed and there were people with tickets, who arrived two-and-a-half hours early, who were queuing up and they were charged at by riot police with shields.”

Fans Kevin and James told BBC Radio 5 Live they had “queued and queued and then there was what can only be described as people trying to rush the gates and these weren’t Liverpool fans – they were local people”.

They said the police were “trying to tear gas people”.

Tyler, who had bought a ticket for £1,000 in Paris, said he arrived with friends two hours before kick-off.

He said police officers were “throwing people out, punching people, doing everything they can to stop them getting in”.

“There were people in wheelchairs, old lads with their walking sticks – it wasn’t on at all.”

Fellow supporter David, who went to the game with his son, told BBC Sport that there were “three different ‘kettle’ checkpoints to get through”, all of which were “very packed and edgy”.

“The third checkpoint was a formal one with proper people where tickets were validated.

“The UEFA statement doesn’t make any sense as the tickets were being checked before turnstiles.”

He added that there had been a “very intimidating atmosphere, which had just added to a “really poor evening”.

Will, from Liverpool, said he took his 84-year-old mother, who uses a wheelchair, to the game, but were turned away at the turnstiles.

“We both had genuine tickets but were told they were fake and when she asked the police office to hand her ticket back, she was pepper sprayed and rolled off behind a cage so she could ‘calm down’,” he told BBC Sport.

"When she tried to leave, one of the police officers put some sort of bike lock around her wheelchair and this wasn't released until the game was finished.This was just an absolute disgrace."

Will, Liverpool fan

Ian Broudie, the Lightning Seeds’ lead singer, told BBC Radio 5 Live that it had been “scary”.

“I’ve been to games all over the world but I’ve never really quite experienced anything like that,” he said.

“I was in a car and there was a bottleneck on the road and we could see officials with their vans, people climbing over fences and players’ families not knowing what to do.

“It was weird.”

Former Liverpool player Alan Kennedy, who scored the winning goal in the 1981 European Cup final, said he was “swept off his feet in the surge of people” outside the stadium and ended up by a metal fence.

“To be in a crowd of people and not know where you are being taken to… was the most uncomfortable situation to be in,” the 67-year-old said.

He said he witnessed “lots of tension from the fans, who were sometimes shouting at each other”, adding that the organisation of the night was “shambolic”.

Liverpool West Derby MP Ian Byrne, who was at the game, said in a tweet that he had “endured one of the worst experiences in my life”.

He said Uefa’s “horrendous security and organisation” had put lives at risk.

Merseyside Police’s Assistant Chief Constable Chris Green said his officers at the game had reported that “the vast majority of fans behaved in an exemplary manner, arriving at turnstiles early and queuing as directed”.

“Their observations will be passed on to the relevant authorities as part of the debrief for the game,” he added.

The Times’ chief football writer Henry Winter said it was “a complete mess and it is fortunate that we’re reflecting on the event and not talking about a major disaster”.

He said Uefa had “effectively” lied about the late arrival of fans and the Liverpool fans “inside the ground booed it when it was repeated, because they knew it was a lie – they knew that was happening outside”.

“The whole thing was exasperated by what the police were doing – they were funnelling fans into an smaller and smaller areas,” he said.

He added that “configuration, organisation, poor stewarding and twitchy police were all issues”.

The match at the Stade de France in Paris did not start until 20:36 BST, with Real Madrid beating Liverpool 1-0.

Liverpool have called for an investigation into the “unacceptable issues” faced by fans.

Speaking after the game, Reds defender Andy Robertson said he had given a ticket to a friend who was then denied entry.

He said his friend “got told it was a fake, which I assure you it wasn’t”.

“It was a shambles really.”

Uefa, European football’s governing body, said it was “sympathetic to those affected” and would “further review these matters urgently together with the French police and authorities, and with the French Football Federation”.

It said the turnstiles at the Liverpool end had become “blocked by thousands of fans who had purchased fake tickets which did not work” and as numbers outside the stadium “continued to build up… the police dispersed them with tear gas and forced them away”.

French police said fans with fake tickets had tried to force access to the stadium, but “the rapid intervention” of officers had “allowed the return to calm”.

A spokesman added that they were able to disperse fans “without difficulty”.

Original article published 29.05.2022 on BBC Sport website.

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