Liverpool MP condemns ‘smears and lies’ after ‘shambolic’ Paris final and demands Government action

Ian Byrne gave an emotional account of his own experience at the UEFA Champions League final to Parliament.

Liverpool West Derby MP Ian Byrne has given an emotional account of the ‘shambolic’ and ‘hostile’ scenes he witnessed at the Champions League final and demanded in Parliament that the Government take action.

The Labour MP also told the House of Commons that the attempts to shift blame onto Liverpool fans by UEFA and French officials were ‘shameful smears and lies straight from the Hillsborough playbook’.

Mr Byrne is a survivor of the 1989 Hillsborough disaster in which 97 Liverpool fans were unlawfully killed in a crush at the FA Cup semi-final in Sheffield.

He attended the Champions League final in Paris on May 28, when Liverpool lost 1-0 to Real Madrid, and witnessed first-hand the shocking and appalling stadium management outside the Stade de France.

Fans are confronted by Police at the Stade de France. Image: Getty Images

This included the funnelling of Liverpool fans into a dangerous bottleneck and crush and the indiscriminate teargassing and pepper spraying of Liverpool and Real Madrid fans – including men, women, children and disabled people with match tickets who were queueing to gain entry to the stadium.

Mr Byrne said: "I witnessed first-hand the shambolic stadium management and the most hostile policing environment at a sporting event I have ever witnessed.

“It was the worst situation I’ve experienced at a football match since Hillsborough - and it could have been extremely serious with many lives lost.”

Liverpool MP Ian Byrne in Parliament. Image: Parliament TV

The chaos led to the match being delayed by 36 minutes, with UEFA initially blaming this on the late arrival of fans, even though publicly available video footage and first-hand accounts from many journalists in the queues showed that thousands of fans had started queuing as much as three-and-a-half hours before kick off.

The UEFA claim was also condemned by Merseyside Police officers working at the match who asserted that “fans did not arrive late”.

The French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin later claimed there had been “industrial-scale” ticket fraud and that more than 30,000 Liverpool fans had fake tickets or no tickets outside the stadium.

However, this was disputed by supporters and even Liverpool players who had given club-issued tickets to friends and family only for them to be denied entry.

French Sports Minister Amelie Oudea-Castera gestures next to French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin. Image: THOMAS COEX/AFP via Getty Images

Mr Darmanin also claimed that only English fans had caused problems – an accusation which Liverpool Chief Executive Billy Hogan has described as “disgraceful”.

Real Madrid have since demanded answers from organisers over the treatment of their supporters, saying ‘many of the fans were assaulted, harassed, mugged and robbed with violence’.

Mr Byrne added: “We were treated like animals for wanting to watch a game of football and then, shamefully, the smears and lies straight from the Hillsborough playbook were used by the authorities to avoid accountability of the horrific events.”

UEFA has since apologised for the problems experienced by fans outside the stadium, but Mr Byrne wants a full retraction and apology for the false accusations levelled at Liverpool and Real Madrid fans.

He added: “We also need to ensure that the inquiry requested by UEFA into the horrific events at the Stade De France is truly independent and engages with  Liverpool Football Club, Liverpool Supporters Trust and Merseyside Police for input into the inquiry.”

In his Urgent Question to Parliament, Mr Byrne went on to ask Government Minister for Sport Nigel Huddleston MP the following:

  • Whether the Government will make representations to UEFA following the calls of Liverpool Football  Club, Real Madrid Football Club and the Liverpool Supporters Trust for a full – and truly independent  inquiry - into the horrific events at the Stade De France, which could have easily cost the lives of UK  citizens?
  • Whether the Secretary of State will call on the French Government and UEFA to retract the attempts to  smear Liverpool Football Club supporters without any verifiable evidence produced to substantiate the  claims?
  • Whether the Secretary of State will engage with her French counterpart to ensure that UK citizens,  including many children, are never again treated with such brutality and force by French Police for simply attending a football match?