PARIS — The Champions League final between Liverpool and Real Madrid in Paris on Saturday was postponed amid chaotic scenes outside the Stade de France as thousands of Liverpool fans were trapped outside as police used pepper spray and tear gas on supporters.
Video footage on social media showed large crowds of supporters outside the Stade de France in the run-up to the match, with large numbers of Liverpool fans unable to access the stadium, leaving large areas of their area empty less than 30 minutes before the match was due to start to start.
In contrast, Real Madrid’s section was almost full for almost an hour before the game.
In a statement, UEFA blamed fans for buying fake tickets for events outside the stadium, but did not specify where those fans came from.
“In the run-up to the match, the turnstiles on the Liverpool side were blocked by thousands of fans who bought fake tickets that did not work in the turnstiles,” the statement read.
“This created a rush of fans trying to get in. As a result, kick-off was delayed by 35 minutes to allow as many fans as possible with real tickets to enter.
“While the numbers outside the stadium continued to grow after kick-off, the police dispersed them with tear gas and forced them out of the stadium.
“UEFA understands those affected by these events and will urgently look into these matters further with the French police and authorities, as well as with the French Football Federation.
Liverpool called for a formal inquiry into what the club said were “unacceptable problems” outside the stadium.
“We are deeply disappointed by the stadium access issues and the breakdown of the security perimeter that Liverpool fans faced tonight at Stade de France,” the statement said.
“This is the best game in European football and supporters should not see the scenes we saw tonight.
“We have officially requested a formal investigation into the causes of these unacceptable problems.”
Sources told ESPN fans were forced to wait outside as police attempted to control entry to the stadium.
ESPN spoke to fans outside the stadium after the scheduled kick-off time and some showed match tickets to the game that should have secured their entry.
A young female supporter complained with tears in her eyes that she had been sprayed with pepper spray by riot police and ESPN witnessed and filmed a subsequent incident where fans were sprayed.
As they lined up outside, Liverpool supporters were calm and well-behaved as they waited to be allowed into the stadium.
Liverpool fans try to enter the stadium for the Champions League final. pic.twitter.com/NLqws9qBrN
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) May 28, 2022
Police officers with batons and riot shields ran from gate to gate to prevent groups of fans from entering the stadium without showing tickets. A police officer fell to the ground and had to be helped by other officers. Officers repeatedly fired tear gas at Liverpool fans.
In a statement, French police said: “Proponents tried to enter the stadium. They made their way through the first filter. The display at the Stade de France is watertight.
“We have intervened to push back fans who are trying to get through,” she added.
UEFA initially called the “late arrival of fans at the stadium” for the decision to postpone the kickoff at 9 p.m. CET. The final was then further postponed, with UEFA citing “security reasons”, before finally kicking off at 9:36 PM CET.
Real Madrid won the final by beating Liverpool 1-0.
This report uses information from Reuters and Associated Press.