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Liverpool MP calls for inquiry and apology after Stade de France debacle

Liverpool MP Ian Byrne has written to the Foreign Secretary urging her to intervene in the Stade de France debacle and push for an inquiry into the events surrounding the Champions League final.

Saturday’s final was delayed as the crowd management, policing and stewarding ahead of the final fell into disarray.

Liverpool supporters were stuck in queues for hours as stewards and police failed to get attendees through the turnstiles in an orderly fashion. Videos shared on social media also showed French police pepper spraying compliant Liverpool fans indiscriminately.

“I can honestly say that the situation outside the ground was one of the most horrendous experiences of my life,” Byrne told Foreign Secretary Liz Truss. “And as a Hillsborough survivor do not make this comment lightly.

“There are literally thousands of first-hand accounts by fans who arrived at the Stade de France hours before kick-off only to be indiscriminately pepper-sprayed or tear-gassed by French police.

“Many elderly people, children, disabled people, asthma sufferers and families out for a day to remember were among those pepper sprayed.

“There is and can be no justification for this appalling treatment of so many people.”

Byrne is calling on the Government to lobby their French counterparts and UEFA for a formal investigation into the final’s operation and a public apology to supporters caught up in the chaos.

Supporters speak out

With supporters being blamed immediately by the authorities for disorder, fan groups started speaking out about the scenes at the turnstiles.

Liverpool’s supporter union Spirit of Shankly said: “Fans were not late. Many began arriving more than two-and-a-half hours before the scheduled kick-off time. They had legitimate tickets but failed to gain entry.

“The failure rests with UEFA, the French authorities and police.”

Liverpool Disabled Supporters Association (DSA) said their members had also received shocking treatment at the hands of the authorities outside the ground.

Ted Morris from Liverpool DSA told the Telegraph: “The organisation was non-existent – it was shocking.

“I’ve never seen so many locals trying to break into a game. Some of our young disabled and blind supporters were tear-gassed and kettled. There were people sobbing. It was just horrendous. Traumatic. We have had a steward fall on one of the wheelchairs of a disabled fan.

“We have visually impaired supporters with guides who were tear-gassed and couldn’t get in. There was a young boy with Williams Syndrome – I can only imagine how distressed he was. His mother was very upset. Just imagine wheelchair users having to face that journey to and from the station.”

Merseyside Police’s dedicated football officer (DFO) travelled with Liverpool’s fans to the fixtures and confirmed the account given by supporters and journalists.

“Can only describe it as the worst European match I’ve ever worked or experienced,” the DFO said on Twitter. “Thought the behaviour of the fans at the turnstiles was exemplary in shocking circumstances.

Football Supporters Europe (FSE), who represent fans across the continent, will be compiling fans’ experiences.

Supporters who attended the final are asked to fill in FSE’s Away Fan Experience survey here.

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