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French police to gather football fans’ complaints after Champions League fiasco

Spanish and British citizens will be able to file complaints in their home countries starting Monday over the chaos at the Champions League football final match last weekend, French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin announced Wednesday.

“From Monday, British and Spanish citizens will be able to file a complaint in their countries, through mail and an online complaint platform,” the minister told the French Senate.

Darmanin and his colleague Amélie Oudéa-Castéra, minister of sports and Olympic Games, were speaking to senators to give official explanations about what happened at the Stade de France on Saturday.

The chaos occurred before Real Madrid defeated Liverpool in a game that was delayed by 35 minutes due to blockages of fans outside. Crowds of mostly Liverpool supporters remained stuck at checkpoints around the stadium, with French police using batons and tear gas to dispel fans who were queuing to get into Europe’s premier sporting event. Many English fans were unable to enter the stadium, while people without tickets took advantage of the mess to gain access to the stadium.

Darmanin admitted that the organization of the event could have been better: “The negative image of this game is a wound to our national pride. It is obvious that things could have been better organized. Did we avoid the worst? Yes. Could we have organized things better? Could we have anticipated it better? No doubt.”

He apologized for the disproportionate use of tear gas, notably on children, but overall stuck to his narrative that the large crowd of fans with no or fake tickets was the root cause of Saturday’s events, and the use of tear gas had saved people from being trampled.

“We express our regrets for the supporters whose evening was ruined,” added Oudéa-Castéra.

The duo asked for an investigation by UEFA, the administrative body for football clubs in Europe, and called for compensation for the 2,700 Liverpool supporters who were unable to attend the game.

According to Billy Hogan, executive director of Liverpool’s football club, around 5,000 complaints were gathered on their testimonies platform.

“We need to improve communication, especially for travelers on public transport. We need to look at the quality of coordination between our public and private agents,” Oudéa-Castéra said, before adding: “We need to ensure a better system for combating delinquency, and we also have to make the use of electronic tickets more automatic.

“We will go through all the conclusions, all the lessons to be learned from these events. They must push us to improve.”

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