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Champions League final debacle tarnished France’s image: Ministers

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MADRID, SPAIN - MAY 28: Fans of Real Madrid watch the 2022 UEFA Champions League final match between Liverpool and Real Madrid from a giant screen set up at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium in Madrid, Spain on May 28, 2022. (Burak Akbulut - Anadolu Agency)
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Jun 02, 2022 - 09:43 AM

PARIS (AA) – Under pressure for the mismanagement of the UEFA Champions League final, France’s interior and sports ministers said Wednesday they regretted the chaos at the Stade de France, which they said has tarnished the country’s image.

At a hearing of the Senate Law Commission, Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin acknowledged that “things could have been better organized,” while Sports Minister Amelie Oudea-Castera expressed regret and apologized to the spectators, who had to endure a frustrating evening on the day of the match (May 28), according to a report by BFMTV news.

Darmanin conceded that “the negative image of this match is a wound for our national pride” and “sincerely regretted” certain unacceptable excesses like the use of tear gas by the police. He, however, defended the actions of law enforcement officers to manage the massive crowd, of which many were ticketless or had fake tickets, saying it helped save lives.

“The tear gas saved people from being crushed, but it also caused harm, especially to children,” he said, according to the report. Referring to two instances of the excessive use of tear gas that were widely shared on social media by fans at the stadium, Darmanin said action will be taken against the police officials involved.

He also announced that British and Spanish nationals who were assaulted will be able to file a complaint in their respective countries and also make a referral to the General Inspectorate of the French National Police (IGPN).

According to the ministers, around 110,000 people including British, Spanish and French supporters turned up at the stadium for the final between Real Madrid and Liverpool. They did not anticipate this number, as the capacity of Stade de France is for 75,000 people, Darmanin said. They maintained that nearly 30,000 to 40,000 people were without tickets or with counterfeit tickets, leading to a collapse of organized security.

France faced immense criticism for the crowd commotion at the stadium last Saturday which delayed the kickoff of the final match by 35 minutes. Both the ministers had blamed unruly British supporters of Liverpool for traveling with fake tickets and causing disruptions.

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