rance’s Interior Minister has sparked anger by trying to blame “thousands of British supporters” for causing violent chaos during Liverpool’s European Cup football final in Paris.
Despite images of Reds fans being tear gassed and baton charged, Gerald Darmanin held them to blame for disorder that led to 68 arrests on Saturday night.
In a damning Tweet, Mr Darmanin said he watched much of the trouble unfold in the ‘Stade de France security hub’ as the English side lost 1-0 to Spanish Champions Real Madrid.
“Thousands of British “supporters” without tickets or with counterfeit tickets forced entry and sometimes assaulted the stewards,” said Mr Darmanin, whose job is equivalent to Home Secretary in Britain.
He added: “Thank you to the very many police forces mobilised this evening in this difficult situation.”
Mr Darmanin said he was supported in his view by Sports Minister Amelie Oudea-Castera, who was also at the game.
Their claims are likely to increase tensions between the Britain and the current French government which has been fiercely critical over the UK since Brexit.
President Emmanuel Macron, who regularly attacks Britain over a range of issues, was not at the football match, and has so far left his most senior ministers to talk about it.
Liverpool managerJurgen Klopp meanwhile joined his club in calling for a full public enquiry, saying their fans had been the victims.
A club statement reads: “We are hugely disappointed at the stadium entry issues and breakdown of the security perimeter that Liverpool fans faced this evening at Stade de France.
“This is the greatest match in European football and supporters should not have to experience the scenes we have witnessed tonight. We have officially requested a formal investigation into the causes of these unacceptable issues.”
UEFA, European football’s governing body, blamed ‘fake tickets’ in a that reads: ”In the lead-up to the game, the turnstiles at the Liverpool end became blocked by thousands fans who had purchased fake tickets which did not work in the turnstiles.
”This created a build-up of fans trying to get in. As a result, the kick-off was delayed by 35 minutes to allow as many fans as possible with genuine tickets to gain access.
”As numbers outside the stadium continued to build up after kick-off, the police dispersed them with tear gas and forced them away from the stadium.”
The Champions League final was marred by horrendous scenes before and after kick-off.
The game was delayed by more than half-an-hour as fans clashed with police across the French capital.
Pepper spray and tear gas was used by officers as crowds attempted to get into the stadium before the original 9pm kick-off time.
Scores of heavily armed officers were also filmed hitting supporters at a dedicated fan zone in the east of the city.
A chilling video showed women among the victims of the police violence, which seemed to be unprovoked.
“The police came at the fans with batons and shields,” said an onlooker who witnessed the trouble, which came during the first half.
”Officers had been standing by with water cannon and other crowd control devices all day, and their numbers increased as the day went on.
”They seemed to be unhappy with the amount of drinking that went on, and so decided to move in. It seemed to be unprovoked.”
In turn, a police source said the officers were responding to ‘crowd trouble’ among the thousands of Liverpool fans around Place de la Nation.
The square had been set aside for some 40,000 Liverpool fans who were in the city without tickets for the prestige match against Real Madrid.