The Union of European Football Associations commissioned what it says will be an independent report into the chaotic scene in which some Liverpool fans were tear-gassed and prevented from entering the Stade de France before kickoff of UEFA’s Champions League final Saturday near Paris.
Rodrigues is a member of Portugal’s Parliament and is president of the Parliamentary Committee of Environment and Energy. He formerly was minister of education and was in charge of sports and youth. He was a member of the World Antidoping Agency Foundation Board from 2019-2021 and was the Portuguese Olympic attache during the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
On Monday, a French official blamed ticket fraud “on an industrial scale” for Saturday’s scene and another said the situation was made worse by local youths who tried to force their way into the stadium. The start of the championship game between Liverpool and Real Madrid was delayed by more than 30 minutes.
French government officials met on Monday to discuss crowd control, and the situation was becoming a political issue ahead of parliamentary elections next month.
France’s Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said in a news conference after the meeting that Liverpool provided paper rather than electronic tickets for many of its fans, leading to two-thirds of the tickets shown by roughly 62,000 Liverpool fans being determined to be fake and creating the possibility of “massive fraud on an industrial scale.”
He defended the actions of police and security officials as fans pressed to gain entry in the stadium. Large sections reserved for Liverpool fans were empty just as kickoff was scheduled to take place while Real Madrid fans were in place long before because most of their tickets were electronic.
Darmanin said the situation could have been far worse. “I want to say once again that the decisions taken prevented deaths or serious injury,” he said.
French sports minister Amelie Oudea-Castera also cited fake tickets and fans without tickets — not all of whom were Liverpool boosters — as a source of the problems. What we really have to bear in mind is that what happened first of all was this mass gathering of British supporters of the Liverpool club, without tickets, or with fake tickets,” French sports minister Amelie Oudea-Castera told French radio RTL before the meeting.
“When there are that many people by the entrance to the stadium, there will be people trying to force their way in through the doors of the Stade de France, and a certain number of youths from the nearby area who were present tried to get in by mixing in with the crowd.”
The presence of local youths caught police off guard, Darmanin said, but he attributed some of the disorganization among officials to the fact that France had only three months to prepare for the match, which was moved from St. Petersburg after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
However, a spokesperson for France’s independent police commissioner’s union (SICP), Mathieu Valet, told the BBC’s Newshour that “supporters without tickets or with fake tickets … were not the main problem.”
“It’s clear that we needed more police — we didn’t have enough on the ground,” he added.
One unnamed Liverpool fan told the BBC that the treatment of fans was “an absolute disgrace.” Another fan, Tom Whitehurst, said he had to get his disabled son “out of the way” after fans were pepper-sprayed. “[Fans] were indiscriminately pepper-sprayed and there were people with tickets, who arrived 2½ hours early, who were queuing up and they were charged at by riot police with shields,” he added.
Michael Carter, another fan, told the BBC that fans farther back in the crowd “were lifting each other up and over the walls because they were being crushed.”
A spokesman for British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Monday, “The footage from the Stade de France this weekend was deeply upsetting and concerning. We know many Liverpool fans traveled to Paris in good time … and we’re hugely disappointed by how they were treated.”
French politicians from both ends of the spectrum seized on the incident, with far-left leader Jean-Luc Melenchon calling the images “lamentable” and adding that “they are disturbing because we can clearly see that we are not prepared for events such as the Olympic Games.” Far-right leader Marine Le Pen called the incident a “humiliation” for France. And Eric Zemmour, a far-right politician, said the trouble was caused mostly by local youths from the nearby Seine-Saint-Denis district and not Liverpool fans.
In addition to the upcoming elections, the incident became a “crash test,” as Le Monde put it, because France hosts the Rugby World Cup in 2023 and the Olympics and Paralympics in 2024.
According to the news outlet, there were no serious injuries, but 238 people were treated by emergency services and 105 others were arrested — two-thirds in Saint-Denis. Le Monde wrote that, “’disgrace,’ ‘unspeakable scandal’ — for European media, in particular for British and Spanish outlets, no word was too harsh to describe the evening.”
Further contributing to the urgency of the meeting Monday was the scene Sunday when Saint-Etienne fans stormed the field and threw flares after the once-powerful team was relegated from France’s Ligue 1.
Oudea-Castera acknowledged that increased security had to be considered at high-risk soccer matches. “We need to take all the necessary steps to make sure this never happens again,” she said at the start of the meeting.