Champions League in Paris: ominous incidents before the Olympics?



“I just had one of the worst experiences of my life. Terrible security and organization, putting lives at risk. » Like thousands of British supporters, Liverpool MP Ian Byrne did not mince his words on the evening of Saturday May 28, after entering the Stade de France for the Champions League final between the club from this city. British at Real Madrid. Rarely, the kick-off was given 36 minutes late and some of the supporters missed a whole half. But what happened?

Gérald Darmanin, the Paris police headquarters and UEFA point the finger at the responsibility for “thousands” holders of counterfeit tickets who would have blocked access to the stadium at the level of the turnstiles, before people managed to climb the gates to enter its enclosure. “Colleagues say they have never seen this. They received bursts of supporters who tried to force their way through. There were plenty of staff, but they were overwhelmed. The time to wait for reinforcements and to be able to repel people, it was necessary to calm the anger, “ says Josias Claude, representative of the SGP-Police unit union in Paris.

→ READ. Champions League in Paris: the prefect of police takes legal action for “massive counterfeit ticket fraud”

The police used tear gas to disperse the crowds. Images that moved abroad and which the opposition quickly seized in France. In total, the Ministry of the Interior counts 105 arrests. More than 200 minor injuries were counted by firefighters throughout the evening. The Paris police chief, Didier Lallement, has decided to take legal action for a “massive counterfeit fraud”.

Dangerous bottlenecks according to supporters

The authorities’ version did not convince the supporters, who described long waits outside the stadium and dangerous bottlenecks where the crowd massed, resulting in a cacophony. “The supporters are not responsible for this fiasco”, defends the association Football Supporters Europe. Merseyside-Liverpool Police, whose officers were present, certified on Sunday May 29 that “the vast majority of fans behaved in an exemplary manner and arrived early”. The Liverpool club is asking for an investigation. The audit announced by UEFA should shed light on the events.

A police source and a Spanish supporter speak, in addition, of snatching in large numbers around the stadium, especially at the end of the match. They describe a largely unsuitable police system. The match was originally scheduled to be played in Russia, but was relocated in late February as a sanction against the invasion in Ukraine. The organizers and the authorities therefore only had three months to think about the device, against more than a year and a half in normal times.

Bad image for France which hosts the Olympics in 2024

With the approach of the Rugby World Cup, spread over nine stadiums at the start of the 2023 school year, then the Olympic Games in Paris, in two years, this is an event that goes badly. Especially since the Ministry of the Interior said, three days earlier, that it was particularly concerned about the image of France during these international meetings. The new Minister of Sports, Amélie Oudéa-Castera, must manage her first crisis, and brings together this Monday, May 30 in the morning the organizers of the Champions League final, the police and the local authorities to “learn lessons” and “defining very precisely the dysfunctions”.

On Twitter, MEP Nathalie Loiseau, former Minister for European Affairs under the last five-year term, sees it as proof that “we are not ready for the Olympic Games”. While the socialist senator from the North Patrick Kanner judges France “capable of managing security and crowd movements”. On condition, he declares to The cross, “that the government understands that what happened is not anecdotal”.

“The image of France has been tarnished”, continues the senator who was minister responsible for sports during the Euro 2016 football championship, whose framework, designed in a post-attack context, had not fueled the trials in unpreparedness. Incidents had certainly broken out in the streets of Marseille, but linked “structural hooliganism” Russian and English supporters. The Minister had moreover obtained the attribution of the Rugby World Cup in an unexpected way, thanks to the “French safety record”.

“As for rugby, the public who will attend the Olympics will not be the same as that of Saturday”, sweeps aside François Cormier-Bouligeon, LREM deputy for Cher. The president of the study group dedicated to sport at the Assembly specifies that the Organizing Committee of the Olympic Games has been working on it since 2017.

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No incidents in the fan-zones

Of the 70,000 Britons expected in the capital, Only 20,000 had been able to obtain their ticket for the Stade de France. UEFA allocates quotas to the two finalists and reserves a third of the 75,000 seats for its commercial partners and broadcasters, in particular.

To watch the game on a giant screen, the English supporters without tickets therefore partly massed in a fan-zone of 12e district of Paris, where the authorities did not count any incidents, but where the ground was strewn with abandoned rubbish.

people from Madrid, less numerous, were welcomed in a fan-zone in Saint-Denis.

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