Under-fire French minister to be asked about chaos ahead of Liverpool game

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Wednesday 1 June 2022 06:30 BST

France’s interior minister is set to be quizzed over the handling of the Champions League final, amid claims he lied about the conduct of Liverpool fans caught up in pre-game unrest.

Gérald Darmanin will appear before the Senate on Wednesday afternoon, along with sports minister Amélie Oudéa-Castéra, to answer questions about the fiasco that saw Liverpool supporters gassed and sprayed with pepper spray while waiting to enter the Stade de France in Paris on Saturday evening.

Mr Darmanin blamed the chaos on “industry-scale fraud”, saying 70% of the tickets presented were fake.

In an editorial, the Liberation newspaper ridiculed its claim that 30,000 to 40,000 Liverpool supporters showed up without tickets or with counterfeit tickets.

French media reported that only 2,800 counterfeit banknotes had been scanned.

“If we prefer to believe the explanations of the Minister of the Interior, it would rather be a detective enigma to make the best classic by Agatha Christie, Gaston Leroux, James Cain or Maurice Leblanc pale in comparison: security point A, 40,000 Liverpool supporters “without tickets or with fake tickets” were supposed to be present,” Dov Alfon wrote in the newspaper.

“But at security point B, less than 800 meters away, only 2,800 counterfeit notes were scanned.

“Where and how could the 37,200 missing free riders disappear? Did they disappear through a secret tunnel under the crypt of the neighboring basilica (Maurice Leblanc)?”

Read more: Champions League Final: What really happened at the Stade de France?

He urged ministers to “renounce state lying, especially when it is quite ridiculous”.

The minister “sows consternation across the Channel”

An opinion piece in Le Monde said Mr Darmanin’s “stubborn police defence” is “sowing consternation across the Channel, which will not fade any time soon”.

The article, written by academic Olivier Esteves, warned that the minister’s ‘lie’ is rekindling memories of the Hillsborough disaster, when Liverpool supporters were demonized by The Sun newspaper just days after dozens fans were crushed at the stadium.

Le Figaro said the final “continues to embarrass the executive” and was marked by “disastrous initial communication”.

In an analytical article, Guillaume Tabard writes that “the long period of inertia” of the executive in not reacting had “inevitably focused the attention of public opinion and criticism of the opposition”.

Most opposition parties in France have called for the creation of a parliamentary commission of inquiry.

“A credible figure”

But another French outlet, RMC Sport, said the figure of 30,000 to 40,000 quoted by Mr Darmanin was a “credible extrapolation” based on the 2,800 fake tickets that had been scanned.

The amount scanned was significantly higher than typical for this type of event, where a few hundred counterfeits are detected at most, RMC Sport said.

UEFA and the French football association then deduced that there was a higher volume of counterfeit notes in circulation, according to the report.

Intelligence services reportedly warned authorities two days earlier that they were expecting around 50,000 England fans “who will not be ticket holders”.

“Some of them will be in possession of counterfeit tickets and will try to use them to gain access to the stadium,” said a document distributed to the police.

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