July 2, 2022

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Champions League final: Liverpool CEO Billy Hogan ‘incredibly surprised’ by French sports minister claiming fans were ‘let out in wild’ | Football News

Liverpool chief executive Billy Hogan is “incredibly surprised” by “deeply hurtful” comments made earlier on Monday by the French sports minister Amelie Oudea-Castera regarding the chaos before the Champions League final in Paris.

Oudea-Castera blamed Liverpool fans being “let out in the wild”, but Hogan has responded by saying those comments were “deeply hurtful” to the club.

Liverpool supporters were unable to access the Stade de France smoothly ahead of the clash with Real Madrid, which had to be delayed for more than 30 minutes as a result.

Hogan’s comments came in a Q&A discussing the club’s response to the issues which affected Liverpool’s travelling fans in the French capital.

He addressed Oudea-Castera, saying: “I would just say we are incredibly surprised that someone in that position would make comments in the first place at this point, when we haven’t had adequate time to understand what happened.

“There hasn’t been an independent investigation to establish all the facts. And as we said on Saturday, there needs to be that independent, transparent investigation into what happened at the match. That’s the start of the process.

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A fan stands on the fence in front of the Stade de France

“So to be making comments at this stage, prior to any investigation being launched, is completely inappropriate. We should know all the facts to make sure that the scenes that we’ve all seen – absolutely disgraceful – from Saturday don’t ever happen again.

“Making comments as deeply unhelpful as that, we just feel that everyone should be focused on getting the investigation right and less about making inflammatory comments that attempt to deflect responsibility for what happened on Saturday night.

“What I would say is that our fans were provided the UEFA information to travel to the stadium safely, which they did; they approached the stadium as directed and in good time. However, it was on arrival at the stadium when they experienced the issues.

Sports Minister Amélie Oudea-Castera attends a press conference
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Sports Minister Amélie Oudea-Castera attends a press conference

“In regard to the comments, we were in complete disbelief when we were made aware of them earlier today. I think it’s important that folks know that our chairman, Tom Werner, sent a letter to the French minister to articulate our views and is calling for an apology to our fans for those comments.”

The club has asked supporters to fill out a feedback form to support the investigation into the operational management of the final.

The French Sports Minister has since commissioned a report on the troubles that marred the weekend’s showpiece event. Oudea-Castera has asked Michael Cadot, the inter-ministerial delegate for large sports events, to produce the report within 10 days.

UEFA has also commissioned an independent report into the events to be chaired by Portuguese MP Dr Tiago Brandao Rodrigues.

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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

Liverpool chairman slams ‘irresponsible’ claims

Liverpool chairman Tom Werner hit back late on Monday in a letter to Oudea-Castera, describing her comments as “irresponsible, unprofessional, and wholly disrespectful” to the fans affected.

“The UEFA Champions League final should be one of the finest spectacles in world sport, and instead it devolved into one of the worst security collapses in recent memory,” Werner was quoted as saying by the Liverpool Echo newspaper.

“On behalf of all the fans who experienced this nightmare I demand an apology from you, and assurance that the French authorities and UEFA allow an independent and transparent investigation to proceed.”

France blame ‘fraud’ for CL chaos

The French interior minister has blamed “fraud at an industrial level” for chaos at the Champions League final in Paris with 70 per cent of tickets attempting to come into the Stade de France thought to be fake.

Saturday’s game at the Stade de France between Liverpool and Real Madrid kicked off with a 36-minute delay after police tried to hold back people attempting to force their way into the French national stadium without tickets, while some ticket holders complained they were not let in.

French interior minister Gerald Darmanin said thousands of fake tickets had caused the mayhem that ensued as Liverpool fans attempted to enter the stadium on Saturday evening.

“At 21:00, when the match was supposed to start, 97 per cent of the Spanish supporters were present, only 50 per cent of the British supporters had got into their section which does show the difficulties that arose only from the entrance relating to the Liverpool supporters and not the other entrances,” he said at a press conference addressing the crowd problems.

“There was massive fraud to an industrial level and organisation of fake tickets because the pre-filtering by the Stade de France and the French football federation saw that 70 per cent of tickets were fake.

“Once through the pre-filtering stage, 15 per cent of tickets were fake, more than 2,600 were non-validated tickets even though they’d gone through the first filtering.

“The massive presence of these fake tickets was the issue which meant there were delays. There were 29 arrests that took place within the Stade de France and more than half of those arrests were British supporters because they’d intruded inside the Stade de France.”

French sports minister Oudea-Castera added 30,000-40,000 people were without tickets or fake ones and that “everyone wants to ensure this will never happen again”.

She said: “Some people had bought tickets and were deprived of a match and we would like to say how sorry we are to all those people because their Saturday night experience was completely spoiled. We have asked UEFA those people should be identified and could be compensated soon to try and overcome their frustration.

“The major central point is to really understand precisely what happened during this massive fraud as far as the ticketing is concerned. There are witnesses of this and figures corroborate that 30,000 to 40,000 without tickets or with fake tickets. The fake tickets looked incredibly like normal tickets which meant some controls didn’t notice it.

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Kaveh Solhekol gives his understanding of what happened at the Champions League final on Saturday night and why he believes claims accusing Liverpool fans of turning up with 40,000 fake tickets to be untrue.

“We want there to be a very detailed, in-depth inquiry with UEFA to see what happened, why, how and to what extent. UEFA has heard our request and we’re waiting for the rapid setting off of this inquiry.”

Earlier on Monday, Oudea-Castera had blamed Liverpool fans who turned up without valid tickets.

Oudea-Castera told French radio RTL: “What happened, first of all, was this mass gathering of the British supporters of the Liverpool club, without tickets, or with fake tickets.”

UEFA blamed “thousands of fans with fake tickets” for causing delays, while UK Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries and Liverpool called for a formal investigation into what caused the chaos.

UEFA commissions independent report into UCL final

UEFA has announced it has commissioned an independent report into the events surrounding the Champions League final in Paris on Saturday.

The comprehensive review will examine decision making, responsibility and behaviours of all entities involved in the final

The report will be independently compiled and Dr. Tiago Brandão Rodrigues from Portugal will lead the production of this review.

Dr. Tiago Brandão Rodrigues is a Member of the Portuguese Parliament and the President of the Parliamentary Committee of Environment and Energy.

He was the Portuguese Minister of Education between 2015 and 2022, a member of the World Anti-doping Agency Foundation Board and was the Portuguese Olympic attaché during the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

Evidence will be gathered from all relevant parties and the findings of the independent report will be made public once completed and upon receipt of the findings, UEFA will evaluate the next steps.

‘I didn’t see a single fake ticket’

Sky Sports News’ chief reporter Kaveh Solhekol:

“[The French explanation] does not tally at all with what I saw. Let’s be clear what’s happened in Paris this morning. We’ve had a meeting between the French sports minister, the French interior minister, UEFA and the Paris police chief Didier Lallement. Now I’m sure at this meeting this morning, the police chief had been asked what happened on Saturday. This is embarrassing for France. It was a shambles.

“Look at all the terrible headlines around the world. They are hosting the Rugby World Cup next year. They are hosting the Olympics in 2024. I’m sure he was asked to explain what went wrong, and I think he has passed the blame for what happened on Liverpool supporters and now fake tickets.

“I’m sure there were some fake tickets. There are always fake tickets for big finals, but I did not see anything that looked like an industrial massive fraud operation. For instance, I didn’t have Liverpool supporters coming up to me and telling me complaining or being upset that they bought fake tickets.

“They were coming up to me complaining about the fact that they were being tear-gassed, pepper-sprayed and crushed. They were being treated like animals by the French police.

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Kaveh Solhekol and members of his Sky Sports production crew were tear-gassed by French police outside the Stade de France

“What I saw was a shambles, total disorganisation and the blame was totally with UEFA, the French authorities, the stadium authorities and the French police. We were in a situation where 20,000 Liverpool supporters turned up at that stadium early up to five hours before kick-off and they were asked to wait in a confined space and there was a gap which was only big enough for one person that 20,000 people had to be filtered through.

“There were no Liverpool supporters at this meeting and there were no Real Madrid supporters at this meeting. I didn’t see a single fake ticket. I would treat with extreme caution what was said at this press conference.

“Not a single supporter came up to me and said, ‘I was sold a fake ticket. I’ve wasted thousands of pounds on this’. I saw some very, very upset supporters because they were being treated terribly by the French police. That is what I saw. I saw women and children in tears, women and children being tear-gassed.

Liverpool

“From the Real Madrid supporters I spoke to and what I saw with my own eyes, there were a lot of problems at the Real Madrid end as well. I know you’re seeing this narrative, especially on social media, asking why there were only problems at the Liverpool end, while everything was nice and peaceful at the Real Madrid end.

“That was not the case. I was actually pepper-sprayed at the Real Madrid end of the ground.

“There were major problems at the Real Madrid end of the ground as well. There were many, many local French youths who got into the Real Madrid end of the ground. Many Real Madrid supporters were mugged and attacked after the game as well, so it was not all happy at the Real Madrid end of the ground either.”

Culture minister: No obvious justification for French police behaviour

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Conservative MP Chris Philp says he was horrified to see the Liverpool fans being treated in such a manner by the police in France

There was “no obvious justification” for the kind of behaviour shown by French police in Paris, culture minister Chris Philp has said.

Speaking to Sky News, Philp said: “I was horrified to see those pictures of fans, including some children, disabled fans, being pepper-sprayed by French police.

“And from the pictures I saw there was no obvious justification for that kind of behaviour. So Nadine (Dorries), I think is quite right to call for Uefa to urgently investigate exactly what happened there because we don’t want to see football fans, least of all children and disabled fans, being pepper-sprayed by police in the way that we saw.

“So, I really am concerned by it, the government are as well, and we need Uefa to properly investigate exactly what happened and get to the bottom of it.”

When asked about suggestions Liverpool football fans did not have tickets and were pushing their way in, Mr Philp said: “As I say, we need to get this properly looked into so we understand exactly what happened. But as I say, I saw
footage of fans behaving in a perfectly calm way, getting pepper-sprayed, and that just strikes me looking at those pictures as not appropriate.”