The champions league final is the very last game in a football fans diary and for those that are lucky enough to see their club at this tournament, let alone in the final, it is a dream come true. But last week, for thousands of travelling fans this dream turned into a nightmare, where the result became of secondary importance to leaving the Stade de France safely.
Anyone watching the final at home would have seen the delay at the start of the match, which was instantly blamed on the supporters (as the authorities often do. Liverpool fans know this all too well). In particular blame was put on ticketless supporters coming late and causing delays.
Despite this, plenty of testimonies show the vast majority of fans were there for 6 o’clock assembling along six narrow walkways. Scanners, which have replaced people and stewards are alleged to have failed to pick up all tickets correctly, falsely recognising some tickets as fake.
Liverpool left back and Scottish international Andy Robertson mentioned how one of his friends was accused of having a fake ticket to which he replied, “I know it wasn’t fake because I provided him with it.”
As these issues began to mount up at the stadium fans started to become crushed. Some fans anticipated the crush and began to climb out of the queue. Videos of this desperate situation were portrayed in the media as fans causing trouble and climbing in.
As things began to worsen, some attendees (apparently locals) tried to scale the fence to enter, and the French police waded in with their well-tested heavy-handed approach (ask Everton fans who went to Lille in 2015 or anyone who has been on a Yellow Vest protest in recent years) pepper-spraying indiscriminately as children, women, and older fans were attacked by the French police. This outright criminal act began again as soon as the fans left the stadium. One fan was reduced to tears as he called TalkSport to say that his nine year old son was crying and shaking uncontrollably as they tried to traverse the carnage being caused by the French police.
Amnesty International say tear gas should only be used in situations of violence to disperse a crowd, and when all other opportunities to contain the violence have failed: “not when they are in a confined space or where roads or other routes of escape are blocked”.
Stories from fans have filtered through as they have returned home.
Ex-Liverpool defender and tv pundit Jason McAteer spoke of how his wife was attacked, clothing pulled from her and robbed of her belongings by organised criminals. When her son chased them down to retrieve the belongings he was attacked. He was saved from a much worse assault by Real Madrid fans who stepped in. Proving to many that fan violence wasn’t a cause.
Testimony has come from many sources, including some that are impeccably respectable and in line with the ruling class on most social and political issues. West Derby MP Ian Byrne was in attendance and has spoken out about the failures, alongside Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram, who tweeted he was robbed at the gate, was “outraged” by the “chaotic scenes” he witnessed saying lessons “have to be learned… but I won’t hold my breath”.
Change of venue a disaster for fans
This grand event was planned to be held at the Gazprom Arena, St Petersburg, but due to the prevalent western Russophobia UEFA moved the event to the Stade de France, Paris. We are most definitely of the opinion that the safety of fans was not considered in this change of venue, only a following of the United States, EU and British ruling class interests.
A lot of people have come out in criticism of Liverpool FC because of those accusations over Hillsborough that have been aimed at the clubs’ fans in the past. All of which have been proved untrue and even changed the safety in clubs with the Taylor Report.
WPB Merseyside believe this wasn’t a case of club but of class violence. Football is a working-class sport and those in charge believe they can treat fans like cattle. There is no way that fans at Roland Garros or the Monaco Grand Prix would have been treated in such a way. Big business has already attempted to gentrify the sport and price workers out. The current behaviour of authorities demonstrates their attitudes towards dealing with working class crowds.
Merseyside Workers Party