Liverpool dismayed by ‘disgraceful’ claims from French Interior Minister
Liverpool chief executive Billy Hogan has reacted with “disbelief” at French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin’s insistence that the chaotic scenes at Saturday’s Champions League final in Paris were caused by supporters of the English club.
Darmanin has faced growing criticism and accusations of lying for his claims issues outside the stadium, that saw kick-off delayed by over half an hour, were the fault of Liverpool fans without tickets or with fake passes.
Thousands of fans were unable to access the match despite having genuine tickets, in scenes of mayhem that saw the French police use tear gas at close range even against children.
Far-right leader Marine Le Pen called on Darmanin to resign while left-wing daily Liberation depicted him as the serial liar Pinocchio on its front page.
Darmanin initially claimed an “industrial scale” fraud of 30,000 to 40,000 fake tickets was the cause of problems that saw thousands of fans funnelled into overcrowded corridors.
UEFA and the French football federation estimate that 2,800 fake tickets were scanned at the Stade de France.
“My response to the French minister’s comments again, as I said earlier in the week, is just one of disbelief frankly,” Hogan told the Liverpool website.
“The pain, the grief, the harm, the hurt that they suffered on Saturday, and now to be told by a French minister that only Liverpool fans have been a problem, it’s just disgraceful.”
Hogan confirmed over 6,500 replies have now been received by the club to an appeal for witness testimony of their treatment.
Liverpool will also fund extra support for mental health charities through the club’s foundation to help those distressed by their experience in the French capital.
Fans have compared the dangerous scenes outside the stadium to the Hillsborough disaster in which 97 Liverpool fans were killed in a crush in 1989.
UEFA have launched their own independent review, led by Portugal’s Dr Tiago Brandao Rodrigues.
“I really empathise with our fans. Nobody should go through what they have gone through on Saturday,” added Hogan.
“We want an open and transparent investigation, not a report, into what happened and we are focused on that objective.”
Hogan also dismissed suggestions there had been no organisational problems for Real Madrid fans entering and leaving the stadium.
“I spoke to my counterpart at Real Madrid yesterday, who made it clear that their fans also had issues,” he added. “They had major concerns with the matchday operation, including the policing operation around the match.”