Champions League: Disabled fans treated like animals - French Senate told

Disabled Liverpool fans have told an inquiry they were “treated like animals” amid the chaotic scenes at the Champions League final in Paris.

Supporters have described heavy-handed policing, organisational chaos and overcrowding at the game on 28 May.

A disabled supporters’ spokesman told the French Senate one wheelchair user had to be lifted over locked gates by fellow fans as she tried to escape.

Ted Morris urged the French interior minister to resign over the event.

French minister Gérald Darmanin previously said only the English fans posed problems outside the stadium.

On Tuesday, Mr Morris, chairman of the Liverpool Disabled Supporters Association, gave the French Senate his account of events outside the Paris stadium before the final.

The match, which was eventually won by Real Madrid, was delayed when long queues of Liverpool fans built up outside the stadium in Paris.

French police used tear gas and pepper spray on some supporters.

Mr Darmanin said “massive, industrial-scale” ticket fraud had caused Liverpool fans to turn up en masse, and said that of about 30 arrests made at the Stade de France “more than half concerned British citizens”.

Mr Morris told the French Senate: “With my wife, we love France and Paris, but you, Mr Darmanin, you lied and I ask you to withdraw your accusation.

“And if you have the decency to do so, I hope you have the decency to resign.”

The French Senate heard about one wheelchair user who was lifted over locked gates by fellow fans as she tried to escape the melee.

Another fan, an eight-year-old boy with autism became separated from his father, was later attacked after they had been reunited.

 

‘Worst football experience’

 

Mr Morris said: “A major catastrophe has been avoided. No power was able to come to the aid of the disabled supporters.

“Disabled fans were treated like animals.

“My wife and I did not care about the game any more at this stage,” he continued.

“We left in the 86th minute and the steward told us we couldn’t get out because some locals were still trying to go into the stadium.

“We left in the 86th minute and the steward told us we couldn’t get out because some locals were still trying to go into the stadium.

"In the underpass - at the exit of the stadium under the gaze of the police, a few minutes later - locals attacked us and it was terrifying, especially for the disabled supporters. As we walked towards the station we hoped that the police would intervene. It was the worst football experience."

Ted Morris, Chairman of the Liverpool Disabled Supporters Association

Joe Blott, chair of the Spirit of Shankly supporters’ group, accused police of operating on preconceived notions dating back to the 1980s in their handling of English supporters and insisted the use of tear gas on innocent fans was “not necessary”.

Mr Blott also urged the authorities to learn from their mistakes ahead of next year’s Rugby World Cup in France and the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.

He described the behaviour of Liverpool fans as “exemplary”.

“We demand an apology and a retraction of the lies being told and for the supporters who will be travelling to the Rugby World Cup and to the Olympics, a fair investigation.”

A French government report previously said a chain of failures had marred the event.

They included lack of preparation for travelling fans, huge numbers of people without tickets or fake ones, and security failures at the stadium.

The report does not apportion blame, but recommends improvements which the government says will be implemented.

Original article published 21.06.2022 on the BBC Sport website.

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