Fans of Liverpool and Real Madrid went to Paris on Saturday to watch a Champions League final, the final and headlining match of the 2021-22 European football calendar. For many, the football game became the least of their concerns.
What appear by all on the ground reports by journalists to have been gross organisational failures and heavy-handed tactics from the French police led to tens of thousands of fans being unable to enter the stadium in time for the scheduled kickoff.
Peaceful supporters were kettled and pepper sprayed by police and put in a situation that could potentially have led to a human crush. Then, after the match there were widespread reports of fans targeted by large groups of muggers.
Initially and in the days since, even as video evidence and countless on-the-ground reports have suggested failures of organization and policing were to blame, French authorities have sought to pin the chaos on Liverpool fans and fake tickets.
If their hope had been to point the finger elsewhere and quickly move on, it appears that has failed following news UEFA will launch an investigation in part due to “conflicting information” from French authorities and their own observers.
Whatever the football governing body’s own potential culpability for Saturday, it seems telling to launch an investigation while saying that UEFA’s own people are giving them a different story than the one pushed by French officials.
Further, following continuing efforts to point to external factors—including Liverpool fans—as the cause for the widespread issues at Saturday’s Champions League final by French officials today, Liverpool say the club wants an apology.
“We were in complete disbelief,” CEO Billy Hogan said of French authorities’ comments blaming Liverpool fans. “Our chairman, Tom Werner, sent a letter to the French minister to articulate our views and is calling for an apology to our fans.”
The club is also asking that any fans present at the Champions League final in Paris answer a feedback form outlining their experiences in order to assist in any investigation into the failures of organisation that marred football’s big event.