Paris (AFP) – French security services warned authorities of the risk of 50,000 fans without tickets or with fake ones two days before the Champions League final between Liverpool and Real Madrid in Paris marred by chaotic scenes, according to a document seen by AFP Tuesday.
The French government has faced a barrage of criticism over policing of the match on Saturday, which saw thousands of Liverpool fans with tickets struggle to enter, but has blamed “massive” ticket fraud for the disarray.
A note from the National Division of the Fight against Hooliganism (DNLH) on May 25 — written with the input of intelligence services and seen by AFP — warned of “around 50,000 English fans in the French capital who will not have tickets”.
“Some of them will have fake tickets and will try to use them to access the stadium,” said the note from the DNLH, a branch of the police, although it does not estimate how many.
“Others will try to enter the arena by deception, for example by using the uniforms of stewards, UEFA, cleaning or medical staff,” added the note that was largely distributed to the police.
After a crisis meeting at the sports ministry on Monday, French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said the root cause of the problems was “massive, industrial-scale and organised fraud in fake tickets”.
Darmanin added there had been 30,000 to 40,000 Liverpool fans with fake tickets or without tickets outside the Stade de France.
Earlier on Monday Sports Minister Amelie Oudea-Castera blamed Liverpool for leaving its supporters “on the loose”, prompting the chairman of Liverpool Football Club to pen an angry letter demanding an apology for the “irresponsible, unprofessional, and wholly disrespectful” comments.
Some 22,000 tickets were officially allocated each to Real Madrid and Liverpool fans. A criminal investigation into the fake tickets has been launched in France.
The note also warned that “several hundred English fans will try to enter the stadium by forcing the turnstiles and the various access doors” and called for “the greatest vigilance” at the various checkpoints.
“If this event does not present particular risks in connection with violent supporters, disturbances to public order are to be feared, in particular due to the very important influx of supporters coming from all over Europe”, the note said.
Saturday’s scenes tarnished the image of the French capital, raising questions about its ability to host major sporting events as it gears up for the 2024 Olympics, as well as the 2023 Rugby World Cup.
UEFA, European football’s governing body, announced Monday it was opening an “independent report” into the problems at the final that would “examine decision making, responsibility and behaviours of all entities involved”.
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