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France’s sports minister blames ticketless fans for Champions League final chaos

Fans encountered problems ahead of the Champions League final (Nick Potts/PA)
Fans encountered problems ahead of the Champions League final (Nick Potts/PA)

France’s sports minister has blamed fans without tickets for the chaos ahead of Saturday’s Champions League final.

Amelie Oudea-Castera has accused fans with fake tickets for causing the problems in Paris.

French police used pepper spray and tear gas at Liverpool supporters ahead of their 1-0 defeat to Real Madrid at the Stade de France.

“What happened, first of all, was this mass gathering of the British supporters of the Liverpool club, without tickets, or with fake tickets,” Oudea-Castera told French radio station RTL.

“A certain number of youths from the nearby area who were present tried to get in by mixing in with the crowd.”

The local authorities, police and final organisers were due to meet at 1000BST, the PA news agency understands, to review events outside the stadium during which Liverpool fans queueing for admission were tear-gassed.

The move comes amid concerted calls for an investigation from British MPs amid condemnation of the way the Premier League club’s supporters were treated, with local authorities claiming long delays were caused by some trying to gain entry using “fake” tickets.

Ian Byrne, the Labour MP for Liverpool West Derby, attended the match in Paris and said he had never witnessed such scenes since the 1989 Hillsborough disaster. He has written to Foreign Secretary Liz Truss with a list of seven demands, including a formal probe and apologies, aimed at UEFA and the French authorities.

In his letter, he said: “The French authorities and UEFA are quite simply covering their own backs with this narrative.

“As a Liverpool fan, I was in Paris for the match and I can honestly say that the situation outside the ground was one of the most horrendous experiences of my life – and as a Hillsborough survivor, I do not make this comment lightly.”

Merseyside Police observers described the behaviour of the vast majority of supporters as “exemplary”, while their counterparts from the Paris prefecture said some had “employed strong force” in a bid to get into the stadium.

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries has backed calls for a formal investigation
Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries has backed calls for a formal investigation (Yui Mok/PA)

Liverpool said on Saturday night they had “officially requested a formal investigation into the causes of these unacceptable issues”, while CEO Billy Hogan told LFCTV the treatment of fans was “absolutely unacceptable” and that “people’s safety was put at risk”.

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries said: “I urge UEFA to launch a formal investigation into what went wrong and why, in co-ordination with stadium staff, the French police, the French football federation, Merseyside Police and Liverpool Football Club.

“It is in the interests of everyone involved to understand what happened and to learn lessons from these events.”