UEFA blamed the postponement of the Champions League kick-off on the “late arrival” of supporters at the Stade de France.
But this version of events was fiercely disputed by those present in Paris, including Sky Sports journalists and reporters inside the stadium.
Sky Sports News chief reporter Kaveh Solhekol was among a group of supporters targeted with tear gas as the chaos continued ahead of the showpiece match in which Jurgen Klopp’s side faced Spanish champions Real Madrid , with the match finally starting at 8:37 p.m.
An announcement shown on the big screens inside the Stade de France initially blamed the fans for the delay, with the following message: “Due to the late arrival of the fans at the stadium, the match has been delayed. “
But Sky Sports News’ Senior reporter Melissa Reddy replied: “Fans have been queuing for over two hours outside. There are countless testimonies of how this evening went down amid horrific organisation.”
Reddy had already tweeted almost 40 minutes before the scheduled 8 p.m. kick-off time: “Reports from those stuck outside the stadium – and images running through them as well – of an organization and poor communication, dangerously narrow roads with police vans still needlessly blocking space. All of this creates an uncomfortable and undesirable situation.”
sky sports Presenter Kelly Cates, who was watching the final as a supporter, also tweeted: “Absolutely chaotic at the Stade de France. No way in, no way of knowing where to go. Stay safe if you’re heading to… . the potential to be very dangerous.”
And former England captain Gary Lineker posted: “I’m not sure it’s possible to have a less well organized event if you try. Absolutely chaotic and dangerous.”
What happened above ground?
The Associated press reported “sporadic instances of fans, apparently without tickets, breaching security and attempting to enter the stadium”.
The agency reported seeing two fans – one wearing a Liverpool outfit – being thrashed on the floor by stewards and being dragged out of the gates. Another fan eluded the stewards and was seen sprinting down the hall and into the lower level of the stadium.
Solhekol: We were gassed for no reason
Kaveh Solhekol of Sky Sports News at the Stade de France
“In the last few minutes, me and three of my crew were gassed for no reason by the French police. It was quite an unpleasant experience, but we solved the problem by taking a few bottles of water and pouring it on ourselves in the eyes.. We are all fine.
“The situation here is a bit strange. I think what happened is that a lot of people showed up at the stadium without tickets. They seem to be young people, French people who are crowding and trying to break the bonds. safety cords.
“From what I’ve seen, even in the Liverpool fan park, the attitude of the French police has been very harsh with absolutely zero tolerance. They don’t care how much of a crush develops and they insist to search absolutely everyone before letting them pass.
“We had a situation at the fan park this afternoon where some Liverpool fans were queuing for three hours to attend a free event. There were three, four, five checkpoints where they were being held up and searched.
“We had the same situation at the stadium tonight. There are so many police, riot police and security here and their mindset has been to prevent anyone without a ticket from approaching the stadium.
“It’s complicated because we’re not just talking about paper tickets, we’re talking in the modern era, people have passes on their phones. They haven’t been able to show the correct passes. pass or find their passwords. We saw people crying because their ticket was stolen, people had their e-ticket stolen.
“As far as police and security here [at the Stade de France] are concerned, they don’t care. They don’t want anyone near the stadium if they don’t have tickets. I now walk the streets and it’s full of young French people trying to find a way to get inside the security cordon.
“I can only say from what I saw myself as an eyewitness, but I didn’t see any Liverpool supporters causing any trouble. I didn’t see them arriving late, I Was quite shocked to see how many early fans showed up at the stadium.
“We arrived about four hours before kick-off, expecting it to be fairly quiet. But I felt like it was an hour before kick-off because so many people were arrived early and on time. I would be very careful when I read the statements from UEFA blaming the kick-off of being delayed and the problems outside the stadium over the late arrival of supporters. This is not Not the case from what I’ve seen.
“I saw quite a few fans trying to make their way past the security guards, the police and all those supporters. It was one of those incidents that we got caught up in when we were sprayed with gas tear gas, a group of riot police tried to eject some Real Madrid supporters who tried to pass the cordon without tickets.
“There was a little confrontation between the Spanish fans and the riot police, and that’s when they got the tear gas out and we were in the wrong place at the wrong time.
“But I have to stress again – with my own eyes, I haven’t seen any Liverpool fans causing any trouble or trouble.”