They were the first concerned; they were the last to be heard. Customary of the stands, representatives of the supporters present during the evening of the Champions League final – Saturday May 28 – swapped, Tuesday June 21, the bleachers of the stadiums for those of the Senate. In turn, they were heard by parliamentarians, after the various authorities – police headquarters, French Football Federation, several ministers –; and after the senators delivered “early lessons” drawn from over two weeks of auditions, scathing from “many malfunctions”.
“What was supposed to be a wonderful weekend in Paris turned into a terrifying experience”explained Ted Morris, representing the Liverpool Disabled Supporters Association: “The trauma will remain for a long time. » Until then, hearings in the Senate had retained the coldness of administrative exchanges, each one coming to justify one after the other the behavior of the troops for which he was responsible to lead to this conjunction of dysfunctions – like the prefect of police, Didier Lallement, June 9, or representatives of the Union of European Football Associations, UEFA, Thursday morning. Fan stories, documenting the experiences of many supporters, have changed tone, fleshing out the numbers and numbers that have been thrown around since match night.
Of the “overwhelming testimonies and an apocalyptic situation”summed up the former sports minister of François Hollande, Patrick Kanner, after Ted Morris recounted what an autistic 8-year-old child went through, “crushed outside the stadium and separated from his father, (…) assaulted by residents of the city and then sprayed with tear gas”.
Fans had lobbied for the right to speak before the Senate. “It is the first time since February 25, when Paris was chosen [pour accueillir la finale]that an institution listens to us”, said Joe Blott, representative of the Liverpool supporters’ association Spirit of Shankly. Alongside French and Madrid supporters, the Liverpuldien did not spare the management of the police. “French police forces got stuck in the 1980s and took us all for hooligans”struck Joe Blott, denouncing “the stereotypes that weigh on football fans” and “police forces there for security, but not for safety”.
Call for the resignation of Gérald Darmanin
‘Liverpool supporters were treated exactly as we are treated all year round: as a threat’continued Ronan Evain, executive director of the Football Supporters Europe (FSE) association – present at the stadium on the evening of the match as an observer.
If the unfolding of events on the sidelines of the Champions League final (which saw Real Madrid win against Liverpool) has been largely brought to light by the various hearings and by the report of the interministerial delegate for the Olympic and Paralympic Games and at major sporting events, Michel Cadot, the supporters scolded “hasty communication, original error” of the executive, according to Ronan Evain.
“Your endless lies and false narratives have only amplified our trauma. We will never forgive them.”thundered Ted Morris about the Minister of the Interior, Gérald Darmanin, calling on him to ” remove [ses] baseless accusations and to have the decency to resign”. Shortly after the match, the latter castigated the British supporters, putting the security fiasco encountered on the back of a “massive, industrial and organized fraud of counterfeit banknotes”. A thesis largely undermined since, including Thursday by an official of UEFA, the organizing body of the Champions League.
“Contrary to what was said here by the Minister of the Interior, the English supporters were not at the origin of the incidents”ruled the chairman of the Senate law commission, François-Noël Buffet, apologizing to the British fans who came to France “for justice to be done”.
Two years from the Paris 2024 Olympic Games and one year from the Rugby World Cup, supporter representatives have called for more direct communication with the authorities – including the police – to prevent such malfunctions from happening again. “You have to learn to train to welcome supporters”, urged Pierre Barthélemy, representative of FSE. For him, France, “the only country in Europe that prohibits the travel of football fans every weekend on the grounds that we do not know how to manage them”has a lot to learn from its neighbors on their management of supporterism. “When you don’t know how to manage 50 supporters, you obviously don’t have the ambition to manage 80,000.” Sitting next to him, Liverpool fans nodded.