Liverpool fans have called on French interior minister Gerald Darmanin to resign after accusing him of lying over the chaos which marred the Champions League final at the Stade de France.
Ted Morris, chairman of the Liverpool Disabled Supporters Association, painted a harrowing picture of events outside the Paris stadium in the hours before the club’s 1-0 defeat by Real Madrid on May 28 as he gave evidence to the French Senate on Tuesday afternoon.
Morris took particular aim at Darmanin, who initially laid the blame for the frightening scenes at the feet of supporters trying to enter the stadium with fake tickets.
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He said: “With my wife, we love France and Paris, but you, Mr Darmanin, you lied and I ask you to withdraw your accusation. And if you have the decency to do so, I hope you have the decency to resign.”
Morris was among Liverpool supporters who were tear-gassed, one a wheelchair user who was lifted over locked gates by fellow fans as she tried to escape the melee and another an eight-year-old boy with autism who became separated from his father, with whom he was later attacked after they had been reunited.
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Liverpool supporters show their tickets as they struggle to get into the Champions League final
Speaking about the wheelchair user, he said: “She was lifted by Liverpool fans over the gates because the stewards refused to open the doors for her. Once outside, she was sprayed with tear gas on her way to the station.”
He added: “A major catastrophe has been avoided. No power was able to come to the aid of the disabled supporters.
“Disabled fans were treated like animals. My wife and I didn’t care about the game any more at this stage.
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.
“We left in the 86th minute and the steward told us we couldn’t get out because some locals were still trying to go into the stadium.
“In the underpass – at the exit of the stadium under the gaze of the police, a few minutes later – locals attacked us and it was terrifying, especially for the disabled supporters.
“As we walked towards the station we hoped that the police would intervene. It’s the worst football experience.”
Joe Blott, chair of the Spirit of Shankly supporters’ group, accused police of operating on pre-conceived notions dating back to the 1980’s in their handling of English supporters and insisted the use of tear gas on innocent fans was “not necessary”.
Blott also urged the authorities to learn from their mistakes ahead of next year’s Rugby World Cup in France and the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.
He said: “The behaviour of the Liverpool supporters has been exemplary.
“We demand an apology and a retraction of the lies being told and for the supporters who will be travelling to the Rugby World Cup and to the Olympics, a fair investigation.”
‘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.
“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.
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.
“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.
Liverpool fans stuck outside the ground as the kick off is delayed during the UEFA Champions League Final at the Stade de France
“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.
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.
“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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