French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin issued a partial apology on Tuesday for the turmoil during last month’s Champions League final between Real Madrid and Liverpool in Paris, claiming that fraudulent tickets and “delinquency” were mainly to a fault.
“Should the Stade de France’s (stadium) operations have been handled more effectively? Yes, it is the solution. Do I bear some of the blame? That is correct, “RTL radio was informed by Darmanin. Of course, he said I humbly apologize to everyone harmed by this poor event management.
Darmanin added gasoline to the fire by accusing fans of fraudulent tickets for the disturbance after images of people packed into small spaces and being tear-gassed by police generated indignation around Europe.
Last week, Martin Kallen, the director of events at UEFA, revealed to French senators looking into the scandal that the soccer body’s estimate of the number of bogus tickets fell well short of the tens of thousands reported by French police.
“We don’t think it’s the figure indicated in France,” he added, adding that 2,600 false tickets had been discovered at turnstiles, as opposed to the 30,000 to 40,000 persons estimated by Darmanin who had both legitimate and phony tickets.
The challenges of massive crowds of supporters crammed underpasses or outside barred gates, Darmanin claimed on Tuesday, were caused by bogus tickets, he said.
In the battle against delinquency, he said, “if there was anything that went wrong at the Stade de France, it was that,” adding that he had already ordered a reorganization of the police surrounding the site, and three important matches had since passed without incident.
There were numerous complaints about how the police treated spectators, even if some fans reported being the victims of crimes committed by juvenile gangs before and after the game.
Last week, disabled Liverpool supporters testified before the Senate about how police shot tear gas against persons using wheelchairs.
Darmanin’s defense of the acts of the French police has drawn a particularly vehement response from the English fans.
Liverpool mayor Steve Rotheram told AFP earlier this month that “people’s memories will long be tarnished by the lack of organization and heavy-handed enforcement, and then of course the way officials sought to divert responsibility and punish Liverpool supporters for their ineptitude.”
Despite the Senate inquiry, CCTV video from the stadium’s surrounding area has also been removed.
According to a government audit released earlier this month, a “series of failures” by French authorities has caused “serious harm” to the nation’s reputation as it prepares to host the 2024 Summer Olympics.