Violent clashes affecting Liverpool fans in Paris have been dubbed the “worst” seen at a European football match, a UK police force has said.
Liverpool have called for an investigation after thousands of supporters were held outside of the Champions League final before kick-off at the Stade de France, with tear gas, pepper spray, batons and shields used to disperse fans.
Liverpool fan Gary Brennan, who was at Hillsborough and had travelled to the match in France on a speedboat, described the situation as a ‘shambles’. He told Sky News fans were ‘treated like cattle’ and it could have led to a repeat of the 1989 tragedy.
The final was delayed by 36 minutes after Liverpool fans struggled to get into the stadium in time for kick-off.
Uefa claimed the long queues of supporters outside the ground were caused by fans trying to enter the Stade de France with tickets that did not work at the turnstiles.
Footage on social media appeared to show people climbing over barriers as crowds built up. Police carrying shields and riot gear had moved into the area shortly after 8pm.
Supporters showed what appeared to be tickets to officers after a gate was closed, denying them entry.
Bottles were thrown at the officers who responded with tear gas, leaving some fans holding their eyes. Supporters still waiting to get in were visibly frustrated.
One fan, Carl Noades, 63, said: “There only seems to be one gate open, it’s ridiculous, the game’s kicked off and we’re stuck outside.
“It’s a disgrace, the way they’re treating us is shocking, there’s no organisation.”
Fans swore at armed police officers in the area as they left, claiming their tactics led to the mayhem.
Prefecture de Police, the Parisian police force, said queues had formed after fans arrived without tickets.
“Exerting strong pressure to enter the enclosure, these supporters delayed access to spectators with tickets,” a statement said. “Taking advantage of this action, a number of people managed to cross the gates protecting the stadium enclosure.
“The rapid intervention of the police allowed the return to calm and the evacuation of the disturbers outside the forecourt of the Stade de France.
“The dispersal of the spectators takes place without difficulty. No major incident was observed in the two fan zones.”
But UK police have condemned the tactics, describing the fans’ behaviour as ‘exemplary’.
A Merseyside Police spokesperson said on Twitter: “MERPOL was deployed to this evening’s match.
“Can only describe it as the worst European match I’ve ever worked or experienced.
“I thought the behaviour of the fans at the turnstiles was exemplary in shocking circumstances. You were not late 100%.”
Liverpool fans with tickets were later let into the stadium hours after queuing up and well after the match began.
One fan said: “I’ve queued up for four hours, my wife and I have tickets. Appalling.
“I’m devastated, Liverpool fans should not get the blame for this.”
Liverpool later released a statement calling for a thorough investigation into events outside the ground.
A club spokesperson said: “We are hugely disappointed at the stadium entry issues and breakdown of the security perimeter that Liverpool fans faced this evening at the Stade de France.
“This is the greatest match in European football and supporters should not have to experience the scenes we have witnessed tonight.
“We have officially requested a formal investigation into the causes of these unacceptable issues.”
A Uefa statement read: “In the lead-up to the game, the turnstiles at the Liverpool end became blocked by thousands fans who had purchased fake tickets which did not work in the turnstiles.
“This created a build-up of fans trying to get in. As a result, the kick-off was delayed by 35 minutes to allow as many fans as possible with genuine tickets to gain access.
“As numbers outside the stadium continued to build up after kick-off, the police dispersed them with tear gas and forced them away from the stadium.
“Uefa is sympathetic to those affected by these events and will further review these matters urgently together with the French police and authorities, and with the French Football Federation.”