Tuesday May 31, 2022
Sorry Uefa, lies about Liverpool fans won’t wash this time
Fans cover their faces to avoid teargas and pepper spray as they try to get into the Stade de France. (Twitter)
The last time the police and the government joined forces and contrived to blame Liverpool FC for their own malfeasance, it took fully 33 years of near-constant toil for the truth finally to be revealed.
So it is at least a mark of human progress that the entirely malign efforts of Uefa, the French police and the French interior ministry are being called out in real time for the very obvious bulls*** they are.
There are now plenty of more detailed investigations into what went on outside the Stade de France outside Paris on Saturday night to be found online, filling in the gaps between the viral videos of little children being teargassed while standing behind a fence and minding their own business, as they had been for more than three hours. They make matters worse for the authorities, not better. Before the Champions League final had even concluded, Uefa had put out a statement blaming the trouble on the turnstiles having “become blocked by thousands of fans who had purchased fake tickets”.
The trouble is that, having issued this statement before the match had finished, it was put by journalists to players who had played in the match, including Liverpool’s Andy Robertson. He had personally given one of his own ticket allocations to a friend, who didn’t get into the match having been told his ticket was fake. “I can assure you it wasn’t,” said Robertson.
Still, the French authorities had almost two full days to dwell on this fact. To consider whether Scotland captain Andy Robertson, who earns just over £5m a year, is likely to also be knocking out moody football tickets to his own mates (for the bargain basement price of absolutely no money at all).
But dwell on it they did and by Monday lunchtime, the number of fake tickets involved had risen to “30,000 or 40,000”. This was the number, according to French interior minister Gerard Darmanin, of those who had sought to gain access either with fake tickets or no tickets. He has promised to investigate the “massive fraud” to which we can only say, Monsieur Darmanin, investigate yourself. We have also heard French police’s mea culpa, that they weren’t ready for “British fans”, a sentiment that came out in perfect synchronicity with Real Madrid fans also talking of how they were teargassed by police and robbed by locals, of how the roads away from the stadium were full of gangs, hiding in bushes and armed with knives ready to mug, and indeed slash with knives anyone who inadvertently strayed to within striking distance of them.French sports minister Amelie Oudea-Castera, while repeating the absurd number about the 40,000 ticketless supporters who arrived with no ticket then mysteriously vanished again, has instead congratulated herself on a job well done. “The match was played, there was a winner, there were no seriously injured people and there was no violence between supporters,” she said, during a press conference held after a meeting to work out why everything had gone so badly wrong, and at which she had evidently concluded that nothing did. This was not, by any stretch of the imagination, the most egregious observation made, however. Given France is about to host the Rugby World Cup, and the Olympics at the Stade de France, a giant stadium slap bang in the most notoriously deprived district in Paris, Monsieur Darmanin was asked whether he could be sure such woeful goings couldn’t occur again.
Said investigation could even begin with Darmanin’s very next words, where he assured those present that these woeful scenes couldn’t possibly be repeated. “Comparisons with the Olympics and the Rugby World Cup seem rather disproportionate to me, knowing that it’s patently only in football with certain English clubs that these events happen,” he said. When your own police officers have teargassed children, this is quite a statement to make, especially when you consider its clear slander against 97 dead football fans.