Liverpool Disabled Supporters Association Chair Ted Morris will give his account on what happened on the day of the Champions League final to the French Senate on Tuesday.
There were chaotic scenes ahead of the European showpiece between Liverpool and Real Madrid on May 28, with long queues to enter the Stade de France, people seen breaching fences, reports of robbery and pickpocketing by locals and police using tear gas on supporters.
French senators last week demanded the state recognise responsibility and identify guilty parties behind the chaos outside the national stadium that marred the event.
They also questioned why government officials allowed surveillance video of the scene, in which police pepper-sprayed fans and families, to be deleted instead of ordering it to be handed over to investigators.
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Speaking to Sky Sports ahead of his appearance in Paris, Morris gave his account of the issues he faced that day in the French capital.
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“We arrived at the station at 3pm and it was surprising that there wasn’t a single police officer,” he said.
“We headed up towards the stadium and went to a McDonald’s for three hours. In those three hours, I’ve never seen so many fans pickpocketed in my life – it was one after the other. It was absolutely bizarre. That gave us an insight into how this day was going.
Sky Sports News chief reporter Kaveh Solhekol explains how the Champions League final delay occurred, with thousands of Liverpool fans being held up outside the Stade de France
“Then we made our way round to the soft ticket check area, which just wasn’t fit for purpose at all. There were local people just walking in. I had a conversation with one of our police officers from Merseyside Police at around 6.15pm and he was extremely worried by events.
“It was just chaotic. There was no organisation, no police presence on the turnstiles to help or even act as a deterrent.
“I had no interest in the game because, for two hours, I was getting text messages from people at the club and our disabled supporters about the distress that was going on outside, so the game just became irrelevant. We could have won 6-0 and I still wouldn’t have cared.
“I was going to leave at half-time and I got a message saying don’t leave at half-time, it’s not safe. So we stayed until the 86th minute, left the ground and the steward wouldn’t open the gate. We had a heated discussion and he opened the gate because there were still loads of locals trying to get in.
“We headed off towards the underground station called La Plaine. We went under the underpass and there were lots of policemen there. As we left the underpass, literally within a minute, there were hundreds of locals to our right-hand side just attacking us. I’m in a wheelchair and I was terrified.
French police used tear gas against Liverpool fans, stewards tried to hold back crowds with wheelie bins. Sky News has combed through footage from the Champions League final to find out what actually happened on that night
“There were bottles raining in, there were knives; they were running in, assaulting people and running out. And when we eventually got to the train station, the police tear-gassed us. I’ll never understand that, no matter how they try and explain it.
“We went up in the accessible lift to the platform and there was a little girl about six years old in a Liverpool kit with her dad. Her eyes were streaming, red raw and she was completely and utterly traumatised. All she’d done was go to Paris to watch a festival of football and how she’ll ever be able to go to a football match or even trust the authorities is beyond me. It was unnecessary and absolutely horrific.”
‘We are going to Paris to expose the myths, lies and mistruths’
Joining Morris in front of the senate is Joe Blott – chair of Liverpool Supporters’ Union Spirit of Shankly – who has told Sky Sports of his intention to “explain the horrors” of that evening in the French capital.
“Since I have been chair, it’s probably the most important meeting that I have attended on behalf of Spirit of Shankly, Liverpool fans and football fans across the world,” he said.
Sky Sports News’ chief reporter Kaveh Solhekol says the events outside the Stade de France do not tally with what French interior minister Gerald Darmanin considered fraud
“What we are hoping for is an opportunity to expose the myths, the lies and the mistruths that have been put forward by certain members of the French authorities. But also to explain the horrors of that evening, particularly for some fans with disabilities, and share some testimonials of people’s experiences that night which will hopefully bring to life the problems that we had.
“First of all, it was Liverpool fans arriving late – and your footage alone dispelled that myth. We then heard that fans were scaling the walls to get in and they weren’t Liverpool fans, as we know, because they were still outside. We know that Liverpool fans behaved absolutely impeccably during that time and, quite clearly, it was through their heroics that nobody was seriously injured or worse actually suffered loss of life as a consequence of that.
“The French authorities wanted to hold the game in Paris to show they could host an event such as this, but they quite literally have proven that they cannot do that, so they have got a lot of learning to do if they want to hold the Olympics [in 2024] and the Rugby League World Cup [in 2025].”
‘Hillsborough survivors and families horrified by similarities’
Blott added the events were glaringly similar to those that unfolded during the Hillsborough disaster in 1989, where 97 Liverpool fans were killed at the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest.
He added: “It became a narrative that we have heard before as football fans – and particularly as Liverpool fans that, first of all, you don’t look at yourself for blame; you look to point the finger at others and then when that myth gets dispelled, you pick another one and another one.
Liverpool supporters show their tickets as they struggle to get into the Champions League final
“We are happy to go through each of those myths and expose them for what they are – people just not taking responsibility for the actions they took on the night.
“We have been horrified, as have survivors and families of Hillsborough, by the similarities. We know what the truth is; it is legally watertight that no fans were involved in any kind of disorder at Hillsborough in 1989, so any slur from the French authorities put forward, we’ll certainly be dispelling. Clearly they were trying to manage and control this on the basis that they didn’t want fans in there; they wanted the event, but not the fans.
“They also disregarded the police intelligence that had been put to them by police authorities over here that, in the last 10 years, Liverpool fans have behaved impeccably abroad. Yet they chose to use a narrative that would suggest there were a whole host of hooligans coming. The problem then was that when those hooligans didn’t arrive – because they don’t exist – they still went to their own brutal tactics of treating us that way.”
‘This is not just about Liverpool fans, it’s about all football supporters’
Speaking on Sky Sports News on Tuesday morning, The Anfield Wrap’s John Gibbons explained how the campaigning against the treatment is on behalf of the wider football community.
“You hope to hear of more accountability,” he said. “The quotes we’ve been getting through from UEFA is a disgrace to be honest with you so it looks like they’re not taking any responsibility.
“The blame has been placed on the fans in the same way the French government ministers. I want accountability and I also want no football fans to have to put up with what we went through.
“It’s not about Liverpool fans, it’s about all football supporters feeling they can go and celebrate the game. That’s what it was in Madrid, it was in Kiev and it should’ve been in Paris.
“You want guarantees from UEFA that in the future they’ll make sure it’s much smoother and that supporters who have spent a lot of money to be there are treated much better and are safer.
“After what we’d been through, we couldn’t really care about the result, and it was a Champions League final.”
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