The line of defense did not move. After the problems of organization of the final of the Champions League between Liverpool and Real Madrid, Saturday at the Stade de France, in Saint-Denis, the Minister of the Interior, Gérald Darmanin, and the Minister of Sports, Amélie Oudéa -Castéra, appeared before the media on Monday, after an interministerial meeting organized to highlight the dysfunctions.
And they have, as for two days, put the blame on the “massive, industrial and organized fraud of counterfeit notes” to explain the many flow management problems. This is the “central point”, the “root evil”, according to Gérald Darmanin, pointing only to the English and the Liverpool club, who wanted paper tickets, which would have facilitated fraud. According to the authorities, there would have been 30 to 40,000 people without tickets or with fake tickets, in addition to the 22,000 Reds fans who had a real sesame for the match.
Figures denied by the British side and by observers present on the spot on Saturday. “Not a single Liverpool supporter has come to me to tell me they’ve been sold a fake ticket,” reports BBC journalist Kaveh Solhekol. If there were thousands and thousands of fake tickets, we would have known. We were there with the supporters. »
“It’s only with certain English clubs that there are these kinds of events”
The Minister of the Interior sent a second charge against the Liverpool club, denying that France had difficulty organizing this type of event: “Obviously, there is only football and only football with some English clubs that there are such events. Liverpool-Tottenham in Madrid posed the same kind of problem. The Liverpool manager has called on fans to come to France even without tickets. »
During the Champions League final at the Wanda Metropolitano in 2019, no “massive and industrial fraud” had been detected. And no incident, like those we saw at the Stade de France on Saturday, had not been recorded, even if thousands of supporters had also traveled to the Spanish capital without tickets, but were in the planned fan zone. for Reds fans. In addition, incidents involving French, Greek, Dutch, Scottish or German fans have also marred the various European cups this season.
The RER B problem
To explain the organizational problems, Gérald Darmanin also pointed to the strike on the RER B, “which limited the number of trains and did not help in this kind of situation”. Liverpool fans, who took public transport rather than the buses made available, according to the minister, were therefore diverted to the RER D, which has tighter passages and therefore created “congestion problems” supporters.
However, many English fans noted that on the way to the Stade de France, some police trucks were blocking part of the road. Journalist Simon Hughes, who was present at the Stade de France, described “police checks in passages made unnecessarily tighter by the presence of vans”, with a very patient but growing crowd.
A lack of information
This created a sort of bottleneck that led to a single control gate. “The French authorities and UEFA are trying to cover themselves,” Labor MP Ian Byrne, who was present at the match, told Sky News. As a Liverpool fan I was in Paris and can say it was one of the most horrific experiences of my life, and as a Hillsborough survivor I don’t make that comment lightly. »
Many spectators also highlighted the lack of information, directional signs at the exit of transport, which would have facilitated access to the stadium. “We need to improve on certain aspects of flow management, when leaving transport zones, at the first filtering,” conceded sports minister Amélie Oudéa-Castéra.
Some regrets, but support for the prefect of Paris
Gérald Darmanin, in front of the media, expressed “regrets about the organization of the final, because a small part [des supporteurs] was unable to watch their entire match and lamented the clashes” and that “everything had not been perfect”, but was pleased that “the decisions taken prevented that there were deaths. He also regretted that women and children were gassed, “to push people out of the gates”.
“The feeling that we must not forget that this match was still able to be played under satisfactory playing conditions and that it produced a fine winner without casualties, without serious injuries and with a calm dispersal and no violence between supporters. However, after the meeting, many supporters, Spanish and English, complained of having been stripped in Saint-Denis, because of the lack of means of transport. A meeting should take place on Wednesday to discuss the problems foreseen in the city of Lyon.
The press conference held by the two ministers was widely commented on across the Channel. Jamie Carragher, former Liverpool defender, notably indicated that Gérald Darmanin was himself “the fraudster”. “The lies and manipulations of people in positions of authority are a disgrace,” denounced the current consultant on English television. This sad story will certainly not stop there.