France Blames Widespread Ticket Fraud as Policing Struggles Continue

In the midst of a debate about the game’s policing, France has slammed what it calls “industrial-scale” ticket fraud at Saturday’s Champions League final.

Ministers recognized that crowd control during the final in Paris was tough, but blamed the issues on organized fraud.

Ticket holders in Liverpool were spotted standing in long lines, with French police subsequently unleashing tear gas on the throng.

One Liverpool supporter called the treatment of fans “an utter shame.”

After they were pepper-sprayed, Tom Whitehurst claimed he had to move his crippled son “out of the way.”

“[Fans] were pepper-sprayed indiscriminately, and individuals with tickets who came two-and-a-half hours early and were queuing up were charged at by riot police with shields.”

People farther back in the line “were helping each other up and over the barriers because they were being crushed,” another supporter, Michael Carter, told the BBC.

“It was the most terrifying experience I’ve ever had at a football event,” said BBC sports writer Nick Parrott, who was in Paris. Locals were “trying to push their way in, resulting in security locking the gates and keeping real fans with tickets out,” he tweeted.

In the face of widespread criticism from the United Kingdom, the French sports ministry has been meeting with Uefa, the French Football Association, stadium administrators, and police to “draw lessons” from the occurrence.

Uefa has now commissioned an independent investigation into the match’s occurrences. The French sports ministry has also requested a summary report, which is expected in 10 days.

Fans with bogus tickets and local teenagers trying to force their way into the stadium have been blamed by France’s interior and sports ministries for the turmoil.

Gérald Darmanin, the interior minister, stated that “huge, industrial-scale” ticket fraud had prompted a stampede of Liverpool supporters, and that “more than half” of the arrests made at the Stade de France included British people. He said that there were 30,000 to 40,000 Liverpool fans outside the stadium with false tickets or no tickets.

Mr Darmanin also backed the police, claiming that “decisions taken saved fatalities or major injuries.”

“We deplore the disorganization of British supporters’ entry,” he stated.

Amélie Oudéa-Castéra, the French sports minister, declared earlier on French radio that there were “no difficulties” with Real supporters and that the Spanish team had greater control over its traveling followers than Liverpool.

However, Mathieu Valet, a spokesman for France’s independent police commissioners’ union (SICP), told the media that “supporters without tickets or with fraudulent tickets… were not the primary problem.”

He went on to say, “It’s evident that we needed more police – we didn’t have enough on the ground.”

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