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 28th 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.
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.
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.
“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.”