European football governing body UEFA has blamed fans that purchased fake tickets for the issues at the Champions League final between Liverpool and Real Madrid at the Stade de France on Saturday, which saw the match delayed by 35 minutes.
In a statement, UEFA said: “In the lead-up to the game, the turnstiles at the Liverpool end became blocked by thousands of fans who had purchased fake tickets which did not work in the turnstiles.
“This created a build-up of fans trying to get in. As a result, the kick off was delayed by 35 minutes to allow as many fans as possible with genuine tickets to gain access.”
Fans of the Premier League club were subjected to tear gas from the French police, as thousands of supporters were left waiting outside of the stadium in Paris.
“As numbers outside the stadium continued to build-up after kick-off, the police dispersed them with tear gas and forced them away from the stadium,” continued the statement.
Liverpool chief executive Billy Hogan gave a statement once back in England and said: “I’m just back – obviously an incredibly difficult night, a disappointing night. But what happened outside the stadium completely overshadowed it. The stadium entry and the breakdown of security in the perimeter was absolutely unacceptable and frankly the treatment of our fans as well.
“As we discussed last night with UEFA, we are asking for a full and transparent investigation; an independent investigation that can help to establish the facts. It’s absolutely imperative that we understand what happened last night and how we got into that situation where people’s safety was put at risk.
“It’s absolutely imperative that we understand what happened last night and how we got into that situation where people’s safety was put at risk. It’s important we understand what happened last night but it’s also important we make sure that we take whatever the lessons are and ensure it never happens again.”
French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin today said that ticket scams and the behaviour of Liverpool fans was to blame for the incident.
As reported by AFP (Agence France-Presse) Darmanin said: “What has been confirmed is a massive, industrial-scale and organised fraud in fake tickets…this was the root cause of the delay to the match.”
A meeting was held today (Monday) involving UEFA, French football chiefs and the police, with Darmanin, Paris police chief Diedier Lallement and Sports Minister Amelie Oudea-Castera also in attendance.
Lallement called for a formal investigation into the production of fake tickets, as Liverpool had requested paper tickets as opposed to electronic tickets.
Around 70% of the tickets present by some 62,000 Liverpool fans were fake, according to the French interior minister. Only 50% of Liverpool fans had taken their seat in contrast to the 97% of Real Madrid fans that made their seats by the original kick-off time of 9pm. Liverpool received an allocation of 19,618 tickets.
The situation was exacerbated by local young people attempting to climb the gates and fences and further checkpoints outside the venue precinct.
The issue with ‘fake tickets’ also affected the players, with media reports surrounding Liverpool player Andy Robertson. Robertson had purchased a ticket for his friend who was reportedly denied entry in the first instance, as stewards deemed the ticket to be fake.
“He luckily managed to get in because one of the club representatives sorted it but they said it was a fake ticket which I can assure you it wasn’t. For me it shouldn’t really happen, UEFA should have been better organised,” Robertson told The Guardian.
Liverpool has said that it has “officially requested a formal investigation” into what happened in Paris.
UEFA added: “UEFA is sympathetic to those affected by these events and will further review these matters urgently together with the French police and authorities, and with the French Football Federation.”
UEFA has now ordered an independent report in the situation at the Stade de France.