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Leagues: UEFA Champions League

France tried to ‘deflect blame’ over Champions League chaos: Liverpool mayor

Paris (AFP) – French authorities tried to deflect blame and scapegoat Liverpool fans after their “incompetence” caused chaos at the Champions League final last month, the mayor of the Liverpool region told AFP Thursday. 

Steve Rotheram, who is set to testify to a French Senate commission by video link later Thursday, said fans were still furious over the botched organisation of the game between Liverpool and Real Madrid on May 28.

“People’s memories will forever be tarred by the lack of organisation and heavy-handed policing, and then of course the way authorities tried to deflect blame and scapegoat Liverpool fans for their incompetence,” he said.

French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin blamed “industrial scale” ticket fraud and the presence of 30-40,000 people with fake tickets or without tickets for causing a crush before the game. 

Rotheram called the fake tickets issue a “red herring” and said the problems were due to issues such as bottlenecks in the lead up the stadium and a lack of clear signs.

He likened statements from French authorities to “the sort of tactics that were used in 1989 at Hillsborough. That’s what leaves a very, very sour taste in the mouth.”

Ninety-seven Liverpool fans were killed in a crush at the Hillsborough stadium in Sheffield, which a landmark enquiry later found was caused by policing and safety failures.

Bereaved families fought a 30-year legal battle to discover the truth after British authorities and media reports initially blamed Liverpool fans.

“This was just an absolute mess of organisation,” Rotheram added of the final in Paris, saying he would try to set the record straight with his testimony to the Senate fact-finding commission.

“You can understand that they want to throw out some blame to other people, but they’re picking on the wrong people by trying to blame Liverpool fans.”

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