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

31 May 2022, 07:59 | Updated: 31 May 2022, 13:00

Liverpool fans were subjected to pepper spraying by police
Liverpool fans were subjected to pepper spraying by police. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

Police in France have rounded on the country's interior minister after he tried to blame the horrendous scenes at Saturday's Champions League final on Liverpool fans.

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There have been calls for Gerald Darmanin to resign after children and disabled fans were pepper sprayed and had CS gas fired at them.

LBC has been told by chairman of the Liverpool Disabled Supporters Association how fans feared for their safety as they tried to flee intimidating crowds outside Paris's Stade de France – but instead of finding protection with French police, they were greeted with riot control.

Peter Allen, LBC's correspondent in Paris, told Nick Ferrari at Breakfast the mood with some interior ministry officials in the country was that comments slating Liverpool supporters on Saturday had brought "shame on France" and that inquiries into what happened should be preceded by resignations at the top.

They are also said to be "deeply embarrassed" about the way senior ministers have spoken about Liverpool fans.

Read more: UEFA orders review after France blames Champions League chaos on 'fans with fake tickets'

"A lot of police chiefs" appear to be turning on Mr Darmanin, calling for him to resign.

Mr Darmanin had claimed there was "industrial scale" ticket fraud which led to 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.

Chaos erupted around the stadium 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.

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 Morris also said intimidating crowds left Liverpool fans fearing for their safety and he soon forgot about the football, concentrating on getting to the Paris metro in one piece.

His group was set about by about 200 youths, who he said tried to rob and bottle supporters, before they found police at an overground station.

But instead of getting help, they were pepper sprayed as they sought safety with officers, in scenes he described as the "most terrifying experience" he has had supporting Liverpool in Europe.

More than 170 people were injured and more than 60 were arrested as police officers with batons and riot shields were deployed at the stadium.

The policing of the match has been slammed by football fans, politicians and authorities in the UK.

A statement from football's European governing body read: "UEFA has today announced it has commissioned an independent report into the events surrounding the UEFA Champions League final in Paris on Saturday, May 28.

"The comprehensive review will examine decision-making, responsibility and behaviours of all entities involved in the final."