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Bad planning and errors, not fans, led to Champions League chaos, report says


Faulty coordination, bad planning and multiple errors by French authorities were responsible for the chaos that marred this year’s Champions League soccer final just outside Paris, according to a parliamentary report published Wednesday that criticized officials for blaming English fans instead of acknowledging their own failings.

The scenes of confusion and violence at the May 28 final between Real Madrid and Liverpool were described as a “fiasco,” and with Paris scheduled to host the Summer Olympics in two years, the report urged French officials to dispel doubts over the country’s ability to host large-scale sporting events.

The report found that authorities were unprepared for the tens of thousands of Liverpool supporters who converged on the Stade de France, and in no uncertain terms, it rejected the French government’s initial insistence that the dangerous crush of supporters had been caused by the presence of fans who had fake tickets, or none at all.

“To us, it is clear that it isn’t because Liverpool supporters were accompanying their team that things went badly,” Laurent Lafon, a lawmaker who presides over one of the two Senate committees that ran the investigation, said at a news conference Wednesday.

Supporters were also mugged after the game by groups of petty criminals who took advantage of the chaos to try to enter the stadium and to harass fans. Few police officers were stationed to prevent crime, because most were focused on potential hooliganism or terrorist threats, the report noted.

The senators urged President Emmanuel Macron’s government to recognize the mistakes, to tweak policing tactics and to improve France’s strategy for securing large-scale sporting events.

Liverpool  and Real Madrid battled it out for European supremacy. (Twitter)

“We mustn’t let spread the idea that we can’t organize big sports events,” François-Noël Buffet, another senator who led the inquiry, said Wednesday. “If the truth had been told right away, we wouldn’t be here two months afterward.”

On the day of the final, Gérald Darmanin, Macron’s interior minister, had quickly blamed the chaos on what he said were 30,000 to 40,000 Liverpool supporters who had arrived bearing fake tickets or no tickets at all. In the end, only about 2,500 forged tickets were scanned, the report said.

Darmanin, who belatedly apologized for the organizational failures on that evening, said Wednesday that the government would follow the report’s recommendations.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.





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