Paris police chief apologizes after Champions League carnage
Paris police chief Didier Lallement has expressed his regret at the chaotic scenes outside the Stade de France in advance of last month's Champions League final between Liverpool and Real Madrid, which saw some Liverpool supporters teargassed as they attempted to gain entry to the stadium.
Lallement shared his remorse at the handling of the situation but added that the intentions of the French police at the scene were to 'save lives' after authorities became concerned at the build-up of fans outside the ground, which was initially blamed on late arrivals and fans who had purchased counterfeit tickets.
Liverpool supporters - some of whom were women, children and elderly people - were teargassed and pepper-sprayed as police attempted to get the situation under control. The chaos led to the kick-off of the match being delayed by more than 30 minutes.
Reports also indicated that gangs of 300-400 local youths attacked attendees before and after the match.
“It was obviously a failure, because people were pushed around or attacked even though we owed them security,” Lallement said to the French Senate in a Thursday statement.
“I am fully aware that people of good faith, families, received tear gas. I am very sorry about that.”
Lallement added that the authorities were not prepared for the sheer influx of people trying to gain access to the stadium which he said was caused by the thousands of fake tickets which had flooded the black market.
He had initially estimated that as many as 30-40,000 counterfeit tickets had been sold.
He also stated that he believed tear gas to be the only option available to police after they determined that charging the fans would only further enflame tensions.
Many Liverpool fans, though, had complained of poor event handling - with some claiming to have arrived hours before kick-off and were still detained from entering the arena.
Lallement also indicated that police will do everything in their power to bring to justice the youths who were said to have acted violently towards football fans, and encouraged fans of both Liverpool and Real Madrid to file official complaints with police.
The hearing in the French Senate will also feature Liverpool Mayor Steve Rotheram, who had his phone stolen during the fracas.
UEFA, meanwhile, also expressed their regret at the chaos.
“No football fan should be put in that situation, and it must not happen again,” they said in a statement.
Real Madrid defeated Liverpool 1-0 once the delayed match got underway.