Liverpool MP calls for government inquiry after Reds fans 'treated like animals' at Champions League final

By Sports Desk May 29, 2022

Liverpool fans were "treated like absolute animals" by police and security forces at the Champions League final, according to the member of parliament for Liverpool West Derby Ian Byrne, who demanded a government-led inquiry into the chaos in Paris.

The start of the final, which Real Madrid went on to win 1-0, was delayed by over half an hour as chaotic scenes ensued outside the Stade de France, with UEFA initially blaming Liverpool fans in possession of "fake tickets" for causing congestion. 

French interior minister Gerald Darmanin also claimed "thousands" of Reds fans had tried to use counterfeit tickets or attempted to force entry to the stadium, although widespread reports of heavy-handed policing and poor organisation have since emerged.

Liverpool called for a formal investigation into events on Saturday, while Merseyside Police – who had a presence in Paris – have since praised the "exemplary" behaviour of most Reds fans.

Liverpool supporters group Spirit of Shankly, meanwhile, released a statement on Sunday accusing the French authorities and UEFA of "shambolic mismanagement", and condemning the local police's "indiscriminate" use of tear gas and pepper spray.

Speaking to Sky Sports, Byrne, who attended the match, demanded a government-led inquiry into the events, comparing the scenes to the Hillsborough Disaster of 1989, which resulted in the deaths of 97 Liverpool fans following a crush at an FA Cup semi-final. 

"It's really difficult, to be honest, to talk about. Seeing the scenes in this day and age, I've never witnessed anything so bad since 1989," he said.

"It was absolutely horrific. To go through that and to try and process what was actually happening, would that have happened to any others sport's fans? 

"This is the premium football event, and to be treated like absolute animals, which we were, and then for the narrative to begin, the French interior minister put a tweet out, which was completely untrue, and that narrative aligns with that which we all know so well from 1989.

"I can't thank you [the media] enough, for what you've done and what you put out, telling the truth. The journalists from the UK have been absolutely magnificent, people have seen what actually happened last night.

"I'm going to be calling tomorrow on the foreign secretary [Liz Truss] to ask her counterpart in France for a full inquiry, to get to the truth about what actually happened, because it was absolutely horrific.

"I've never ever seen a more hostile environment for a football fan to go into. From the outset, the police, the security, everything about it was absolutely awful. 

"I got in about an hour before [kick-off]. There were 13 turnstiles, they had two open, funnelling people through. I literally begged the security guard to open the other gates, to just let people in. People just wanted to go to the game. There were people there two and a half hours before [kick-off] who were kettled into that situation.

"It was an absolute disgrace. It's important Liverpool Football Club – and I'm sure they will do – and also our government, stand up for Liverpool fans, because that could've happened to any other football team. It's not about Liverpool fans, it's about football fans.

"It should be football fans in this country coming together and saying, 'enough is enough, we're not going to accept that'." 

Asked whether he saw any Liverpool fans using fake tickets or forcing entry to the stadium, he replied: "I didn't, and I can only speak from personal experience. I saw hundreds, if not thousands, of local fans jumping the fences, scaling the walls to get in. 

"That was my personal experience. Again, it's so easy, isn't it? To put the blame on Liverpool fans, to put the blame on football fans. We need a full investigation into what happened, because this should never ever be repeated."

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