The French government is “sad and sorry” that 2,700 spectators were denied entry to the Champions League final between Liverpool and Real Madrid, although a spokesperson dismissed suggestions that there had been any 'drama' outside the Stade de France.
With UEFA commissioning an independent report on Tuesday, the scenes in Saint-Denis were discussed in a French cabinet meeting on Wednesday as the fallout from the final continues.
French government spokesperson Olivia Gregoire said President Emmanuel Macron and government members were “sorry” for those who “were deprived on the game”, but claimed there had been no injuries.
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“First, could we have done things better or could it have been better handled? Yes,” Gregoire said.
“Have there been some people wounded, a drama? No. Has there been a drama? At the time I’m speaking, the answer is no.”
Footage showed police tear-gassing some Liverpool fans as they waited to get inside the stadium, with various on-the-ground accounts detailing the scenes.
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Liverpool defender Andy Robertson called it a “shambles” with his own family struggling to get into the Stade de France, while former Reds midfielder Jason McAteer spoke of his own experience during the final.
“My wife was mugged which was sad," McAteer told LFC TV. “My eldest boy was attacked. You shouldn't go to a football match and have to deal with that. It's wrong. It's upsetting, it's scary.”
Liverpool had asked fans who attended, or intended to watch, the final for their feedback, with reports claiming the club have received more than 5,000 responses.
The club also said they were seeking an apology from French sports minister Amelie Oudea-Castera, who said Liverpool let their fans “out in the wild”.
The spotlight is also on France given they are hosting the men’s Rugby World Cup next year, as well as the Olympics in 2024, and Gregoire admitted there is room for improvement.
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“Can we improve things, especially in view of the future sporting events? Certainly,” she added.
“What was said this morning (at the cabinet meeting) is that we must keep some composure, even if we must improve things.
“Let’s not forget those who had a bad evening… that is to say the fans, the families, the 2,700 spectators who had a ticket and couldn’t go and see the game. Fathers, mothers with their children, disgusted they couldn’t attend a sports event they were waiting for.”
UEFA will reimburse the supporters who had legitimate tickets but were not allowed in.
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