Well-behaved Liverpool fans were left out of the Champions League final and tear-gassed after ticketless thugs attempted to charge and leap over the goals ahead of Saturday night’s flagship game.
Horrific scenes saw large numbers of ticketless men attempting to make their way through the secure area of the stadium, including some who did so successfully before running into the stadium.
Others goaded baton-wielding police officers and rockets were thrown at lines of riot police as violence and chaos threatened to overshadow the flagship event.
I left my seat at the Stade de France at 7.25pm - 35 minutes before the scheduled kick-off time – after hearing that huge lines had formed outside and thugs were trying to storm the gates.
As I moved between Gates X and Y at the Liverpool end of the stadium, I saw dozens of men huddled on the other side of the metal fences before making repeated attempts to climb over them and storm the gates.
AFP via Getty Images)
Aside via Getty Images)
Police officers were ordered to run back and forth between different areas to quell anger and a young steward told me Gate Y had been closed minutes earlier after 40-50 thugs managed to force their way through that gate .
He said: “Some were caught by security but others managed to get through. They didn’t have tickets.
“I was told there was trouble at other goals as well.”
France’s Home Secretary Gerald Darmanin blamed ticketless British fans for the problems, but none of those I saw causing problems wore Liverpool colors and all appeared to be part of local gangs.
Meanwhile, thousands of men, women and children – almost all wearing Liverpool shirts, hats and scarves – have been left amidst the chaos outside Gate Y while begging for help.
Some were in tears and pain as police officers repeatedly fired CS gas.
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And shortly after Kop legend Kenny Dalglish spoke to me through the security fences to mark the 37th anniversary of the Heysel Stadium disaster that killed 39 people, others expressed fears they were witnessing yet another horror .
Darren Nicholl, from Belfast, cried inside the fenced fence after being separated from his 14-year-old son Reuben after an onslaught of thugs resulted in him being pushed through the gates while Reuben was left outside.
Darren, 40, said: “The locals tried to press charges.
“Reuben yelled at me ‘Daddy, Daddy, help me,’ but I couldn’t reach him to help.
“It was awful and the next thing I didn’t know where he was.
“Some of them got in, but I don’t know how many.”
Speaking through the fence, another man, believing I was an official because of my media lanyard, approached me and asked me to take a walkie-talkie for the stadium officials.
He pleaded: “People are being killed here.
“There are Algerians out here with knives and guns and everything. That needs to be clarified now. We are being gassed with tear gas for no reason.
Another added: “Liverpool fans will be held responsible but we are behaving and just waiting to get in.
“It’s not our fans causing trouble, it’s local gangs of lads causing trouble out here, not Liverpool fans.”
At 9:37 p.m. local time, seconds after the game finally kicked off after two 15-minute delays, I watched as scores of young men locked outside furiously tried to storm the nearby Gate X as ticketed fans scrambled to get in asked and pleaded for help.
Riot police were forced to intervene, prompting some from outside to launch rockets at them over the fences.
There was anger and sadness from die-hard fans, including hundreds who didn’t make it into the stadium by half-time.
Liverpool fan Giles Green, 43, was among those who were out after the scheduled kick-off time.
He criticized the police’s brutal response, saying: “Everyone lined up peacefully, but they wouldn’t let us in, and then when some people started to get in by other means, they started tear-gassing us all.”
Jan Charlton, who has supported Liverpool for more than 50 years, approached me at the fences before asking the mirror to tell the truth about what had happened.
She said: “This is shocking. It could be a different Hillsborough. It’s the worst organization I’ve ever seen.
“We showed up two hours before the game, neither of us are drunk and we are treated that way. We got to the turnstile and they wouldn’t let us in.
“Local guys are trying to steal people’s bags and cause trouble so they try to force their way in.
“We did nothing wrong but all the police have done is be aggressive with us.
“It shouldn’t be happening and there should be more security out here to stop it. It is disgusting.”
French police said 68 people were arrested and 174 injured, mostly from tear gas inhalation, during the chaotic scenes.
Liverpool officials, including manager Jurgen Klopp, have already urged UEFA to launch a full investigation into the incident.
And Merseyside Police, who had officers at the game, vowed to help with the investigation.
A spokesman for Merseyside Police said on Twitter: “MERPOL was used for tonight’s game.
“I can only describe it as the worst European game I have ever played or witnessed.
“I thought the behavior of the fans at the turnstiles in shocking circumstances was exemplary. They weren’t 100% late.”
Deputy Chief Constable Chris Green later added: “We are aware of a number of reports of incidents before and after last night’s Champions League final at the Stade de France in Paris.
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“We will be working with both the club, UEFA and the UK Football Policing Unit to share the observations of our officers who attended the game and attended the pre-match meetings with the relevant authorities.
“As with all European games, officials from Merseyside have been deployed to France to work in an observation and advisory role with local officials and they have reported that the vast majority of fans have behaved in an exemplary manner, arriving early at the turnstiles and making themselves comfortable as instructed and your observations will be reported to the appropriate authorities as part of the game debriefing.
“We know that people would have witnessed many harrowing scenes last night and we wish all those returning home from Paris a safe journey.”
Northern Irishman Darren was eventually reunited with his son Reuben, who was crying and clearly traumatized by his experience.
Darren, who follows Liverpool home and away, summed up the feelings of many around him just before half-time, adding: “The game doesn’t interest me now. I don’t even want to see it.
“I’m just glad Reuben is okay, I thought he was trampled on.
“Whenever we come to games in these foreign countries, it’s always difficult.”
https://www.mirror.co.uk/sport/football/inside-terror-paris-liverpool-fans-27095558 Inside Terror in Paris with Liverpool fans in tears of agony as cops spray tear gas