France says 'sorry' for use of tear gas after blaming Liverpool fans with fake tickets

1 June 2022, 18:52 | Updated: 1 June 2022, 19:32

France has apologised for blaming Liverpool fans.
France has apologised for blaming Liverpool fans. Picture: Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

France has apologised for "disproportionate" use of tear gas on Liverpool fans at the Champions League final, despite earlier blaming supporters for needing to deploy it.

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France's interior minister Gerald Darmanin shared his regret over the way the match between Liverpool and Real Madrid was managed in a senate committee hearing on Wednesday.

It came after children and disabled fans were among those who were pepper sprayed and had CS gas fired at them at the final over the weekend.

Chaos erupted around the stadium in Paris as fans spent hours waiting to get in, forcing kick-off in the clash between Liverpool and eventual champions Real Madrid to be pushed back.

"Clearly things could have been organised better. It is evident that this celebration of sport was ruined and we very much regret the troubles which were sometimes unacceptable," Mr Darmanin said.

He added: "I am very sincerely sorry for that disproportionate use and sanctions will be taken."

Read more: French police back Liverpool fans and call for minister to go after Champions League chaos

Read more: Disabled Liverpool supporter slams French minister's Champions League final 'lies'

However, the interior minister also claimed that Liverpool supporters represented a public disorder risk, in a bid to defend France's management of the game.

"It is clear - all the security services notes say so - that the people of Liverpool pose public order problems," he said.

"Not all its supporters, but a small part of its supporters."

Mr Darmanin also told the senate that two cases had been referred to France's police watchdog regarding the possible disproportionate use of force during the event.

French police are also set to be sent to the UK and Spain next week to help any citizens who believed they were victims of crime to file a complaint.

Questioned about security at the game he said: "The negative image of this match is a wound to our national pride and it is obvious that things could have been better organised. Did we avoid the worst? Yes. Could we have planned more? No doubt."

Spain's Real Madrid beat Liverpool 1-0 in the final.

Away from the game, meant to be one of the most prestigious ties in the footballing calendar, the situation descended into shambles.

"Local youths" were attempting to rush the stadium, according to Ted Morris, chairman of the Liverpool Disabled Supporters Association.

Children, wheelchair users and blind fans got caught up as French police deployed crowd control measures like pepper spray and tear gas, leaving peaceful Liverpool fans questioning why they had been targeted.

Mr Darmanin previously claimed there was "industrial scale" ticket fraud which led to the delays before kick off in the final and that some British fans had "intruded" into the stadium.

But one senior official from the Gendarmerie, one of France's police forces, said attempts to justify what happened on Saturday "mark the bankruptcy of a ministry which does not know how to mark a sporting event" in quotes given to French media.

President Emmanuel Macron earlier said he fully supported Mr Darmanin, who has faced ongoing criticism since the incident.

A spokeswoman said he wanted the light "shone on what really happened, in full transparency, and very quickly".

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