Liverpool fans praised by French senate as Reds supporters demand apology over Stade de France fiasco | Football

French senator Francois-Noel Buffet praised Liverpool fans and made clear the senate knows they did not cause the chaos at the Stade de France. (Photo by Daniel Pier/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Liverpool fans have been praised in the French senate after giving their testimonies to the official inquiry into the chaos at the Stade de France ahead of the UEFA Champions League final on 28 May.

Reds fans Ted Morris and Joe Blott, representing the Liverpool Disabled Supporters Association and Spirit of Shankly fans’ union respectively, gave harrowing accounts of chaos ahead of the Liverpool vs Real Madrid fixture which were described as ‘apocalyptic’ by French senator and former sports minister Patrick Kanner.

Chairman of the inquiry Francois-Noel Buffet made clear before the fans’ hearing began on Wednesday afternoon that ‘we know that English football fans were not the cause of what happened’, after French interior minister Gérald Darmanin, chief of Paris police Didier Lallement and UEFA events CEO Martin Kanner had tried to shift blame to fans for the fiasco in previous senate hearings.

Liverpool fans including women and children who arrived early for the match were tear gassed by French riot police, forced into dangerous crushes outside locked turnstiles and were denied entry to the stadium despite showing valid tickets.

Morris and Blott, along with Ronan Evain and Pierre Bathélemy from the democratic European supporters organisation Football Supporters Europe, spent 90 minutes giving a chronology of what happened at the Stade de France and taking politicians to task over mistruths which had been spread since the final.

Authority figures including Darmanin and sports minister Amélie Oudéa-Castéra have blamed up to 30-40,000 tickets Liverpool fans trying to enter the stadium for the injuries suffered by supporters. The figures have since been completely discredited and no politician, police representative or UEFA official has presented a scrap of audio-visual evidence backing up their version of events.

‘I don’t ever want to come back to Paris if we are going to be treated in the same way again in future,’ Morris explained. ‘There have been so many lies about what happened from those in power here.

‘I started to receive messages saying disabled people were being tear gassed and were terrified. Some feared for their lives. It was only thanks to the great behaviour of Liverpool fans that a catastrophe was avoided. Nobody in a position of power came to help disabled fans.’

Morris went on to give examples of specific traumas suffered by disabled Liverpool fans.

PARIS, FRANCE - MAY 28: Liverpool fans are locked outside the stadium prior to the UEFA Champions League final match between Liverpool FC and Real Madrid at Stade de France on May 28, 2022 in Paris, France. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)

Liverpool fans were locked outside turnstiles for hours without access to drinking water or toilets. (Getty Images Europe)

‘A 14-year-old disabled fan has burns from the effects of tear gas,’ Morris said. ‘He went to the match with his Dad and was excited, but was left terrified. There was a disabled fan who attended the match with his elderly father. He was attacked by a gang of locals and had his belongings stolen.’

‘Shocking treatment was done to men, women and children with disabilities. They were treated like animals. This a shame on the authorities. Gérald Darmanin has brought shame on France and the French government. His lies made things so much worse. He should apologise or resign. His lies have reminded us of those after Hillsborough. He should be ashamed.’

For Blott, the police used dangerous prejudices to plan their strategy for the event.

Liverpool fans with legitimate tickers were refused entry to the Stade de France. (Credits: PA)

‘Liverpool fans had travelled across Europe this season, to Spain, Portugal and Italy with zero arrests, zero known risk supporters, zero preventive arrests and zero ejections from stadia,’ he explained. ‘Over 25,000 fans showed exemplary behaviour all season long. Why was the good behaviour record of Liverpool fans ignored? The police were stuck in the 1980s and believed lies about the Hillsborough disaster.’

‘The hooligans that French police spent months preparing for from Liverpool simply do not exist. They did not alter their tactics when no hooligans arrived, and instead treated families, children, and people with disabilities like criminals.’

Blott concluded his testimony by calling for the truth to be proven by the French senate, and for those have lied about events at the Stade de France to face consequences.

‘We demand a full apology and a retraction of the lies,’ he said.

A survey revealed 76% of French people believe Gérald Darmanin is lying about what happened at the Stade de France. (Credits: AP)

Thanking the Liverpool supporters for having taken the time to travel to Paris to make their testimony in person, chairman Buffet made enlightening comments.

‘Thank you very much to Joe Blott and Ted Morris for coming hear to speak before the senate,’ the senator said. ‘Your testimony is extremely important to us. What happened to you is unacceptable.’

The senate investigation will continue, with its end date unknown, but the empathy and gratitude shown towards fans will reinvigorate those in Liverpool and around the world who have been shocked and appalled by the French authorities’ attempts to shift blame.

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