Merseyside Police has issued a statement regarding the organisation of the Champions League Final in Paris last night.
Assistant Chief Constable Chris Green said, “We are aware of a number of reports relating to incidents both before and after last night’s Champions League Final at the Stade de France in Paris.
“We are also aware that Liverpool FC have requested a formal investigation from UEFA and we will be linking in with both the club, UEFA and the UK Football Policing Unit to pass on the observations of our officers who attended the game and took part in the pre-match meetings with the relevant authorities.
“As with all European matches officers from Merseyside were deployed in France to work in an observatory and advisory capacity with the local officers, and they have reported the vast majority of fans behaved in an exemplary manner, arriving at turnstiles early and queuing as directed and their observations will be passed on to the relevant authorities as part of the debrief for the game.
“Many thousands of fans have travelled throughout this season to matches across Europe and we have worked closely with our supporter groups, the Club and European hosts to ensure that the matches passed without incident and fans were kept safe. Our officers returning today will conduct a formal debrief to ensure that we can fully support any subsequent investigation following last night’s game.
“We know that people would have witnessed a lot of distressing scenes last night and we wish everyone returning home from Paris a safe journey. Our focus today will be supporting Liverpool city council with the policing of the homecoming parade.”
Henry Winter, Chief Football Writer for the Times on BBC Radio 5 Live said, “It is a complete mess and it is fortunate that we’re reflecting on the event and not talking about a major disaster.
“Configuration, organisation, poor stewarding and twitchy police were all issues. To treat people like that last night was absolutely disgusting.”
A fan named Will from Liverpool told the BBC, “Took my 84 year old mum to the game last night. She’s been a Liverpool supporter her whole life but this was her first European final.
“We got to the ground at 18.30 local time and she was in her wheelchair. We both had genuine tickets but were told they were fake and when she asked the police officer to hand her ticket back she was pepper sprayed and rolled off behind a cage so she could “calm down”.
“When she tried to leave, one of the police officers put some sort of bike lock around her wheelchair and this wasn’t released until the game was finished. The whole trip cost me £5000. I was in Madrid and it was organised so well but this was just an absolute disgrace.”
Another fan, Graham Colville from Hawick, told the BBC, “I paid over £2,500 for my girlfriend and me to travel to Paris from Hawick in the Scottish Borders. I’d arranged the trip as a surprise and had also planned to propose after the game.
“We arrived a couple of hours before kick off and within half an hour we were as cramped as sardines, no one could move, pressed up against the barricades. Luckily it wasn’t overly hot as we were given no water and people that did have it were getting it confiscated as you eventually got through security.
“Women, children, older people were pepper sprayed without cause, my girlfriend one of them. As I pleaded her case that she’d done nothing wrong I was pushed to the ground and beaten by the police. Unsure what caused it but my bald head was as red as my top with blood, looked like I had a swimming cap on. To make things worse during the commotion I lost the engagement ring.
“Something needs done.”
Liverpool FC also issued a statement; “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.”
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