Police chief apologise to Liverpool fans

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Police chief apologises to Liverpool fans / ALAMY

The man in charge of policing the Champions League final in Paris has apologised for using tear gas against Liverpool fans outside the stadium.

Didier Lallement offered sincere regrets for the trouble and admitted failures in the security operation.

But he also defended his handling of the chaos last month, saying his “red line” was to save lives.

French authorities blamed late arrivals and fake tickets for overcrowding and chaotic scenes before the match.

Liverpool fans – including children – were tear-gassed and pepper-sprayed outside the stadium by police ahead of the final between Liverpool and Real Madrid on 28 May.

Then as they left the area, some fans were were attacked by 300 to 400 local youths, Mr Lallement said.

“It was obviously a failure, because people were pushed around or attacked even though we owed them security,” Mr Lallement told the French Senate on Thursday.

He said his force was not prepared for the scale of the problem that thousands of fake tickets caused.

He explained that using tear gas outside the Stade de France was the only means they had to get the crowd to move back without charging at them: “I think it would have been a mistake to charge at people.” He added that appeals had been made for supporters to move back but they had not worked.

The police chief was aware that families were caught up in the chaos but he insisted it was absolutely necessary for the match to get underway because the stadium was full.

The fiasco outside the stadium prompted uproar in France as well as the UK and Spain.

Interior minister Gérald Darmanin has come under fire for his own response, blaming the trouble outside the stadium on “massive, industrial-scale” ticket fraud which caused Liverpool fans to turn up en masse.

Mr Lallement said the scale of fake tickets had not been considered ahead of the match. Asked why he had put the number of fake tickets at 30-40,000, the police chief admitted he may have been wrong but that was the number he had estimated at the time.

Liverpool fans have complained of fearing for their safety in the crush, despite arriving hours earlier. But they have also told of local gangs from the Saint-Denis area descending on crowds after the match, stealing phones and watches and threatening them with knives.

Mr Lallement pledged to do everything he can to find those responsible for the post-match violence and to bring them to justice. He encouraged British and Spanish citizens to file complaints to help find those responsible.

Liverpool Mayor Steve Rotheram, whose phone was stolen outside the stadium, will give evidence about the chaos to the Senate later on Thursday. The hearing will also hear from the French Football Federation.

Uefa eventually apologised to fans of both clubs last week for the “frightening and distressing events” they had witnessed. “No football fan should be put in that situation, and it must not happen again,” the European football governing body said in a statement.

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