News From Liverpool: Journalist shows what really happened to fans in Paris – bottlenecks, tear gas and “bad actors”

While UEFA peddled lies about the situation outside of the Stade de France to those in the stadium and watching around the world, the truth became evident through updates on social media.

The morning after the Champions League final, the Mails chief football writer Rob Draper has detailed his experience, showing what really happened to fans.

Drapers account is detailed in full below, via Twitter:

Its important to tell what happened on the ground last night as I see that there are already several versions of The Truth flying around. I was on the ground from 6.45pm (2.15 hrs before kickoff) when problems began. So heres a thread explaining my experiences

Want to get this out as French interior minister Gerald Darmanin is claiming thousands of ticketless British fans caused the issues. Sure this plays well in France. I note he was tweeting from safety of observation box in stadium + wasnt on the ground.

Had he been so he would have observed ineptitude of the operation. I came from Stade de France metro, normally around 10min walk. Took a bit longer but thats usual. Mood was fiesta like. At around 19.00 I arrived about 30m from Liverpool end

And heres the crucial bit of evidence, the pressure point which caused the majority of problems. Police had for some reasons parked 3/4 vans across the paths, making a broad walkway suddenly narrow causing a bottleneck. I shot this at 19.22 after about 10mins of waiting

Rob Draper (@draper_rob) May 29, 2022

Already to my eyes it felt dangerous. You werent allowed to go round on the road, so people were clambering over fences to join the queue. There were children, blind fans. At this point it was moving but when I got there around 19.05 I had that pit of stomach feeling

I began speaking to police (in French) asking why the vans were parked there? Could they move them? They shrugged told us to move on. This is about 19.10. I said: Its dangerous. There are thousands of people behind. In 10mins, it will be more dangerous

One policeman seemed sympathetic, said he couldnt move vans. i said: Call your boss. Its dangerous. They have to be moved He promised he would

Bear in mind these are fans who arrived at metro at 18.30-18.45 (more than 2 hours before KOFF) Its now 19.20. But were 30-40m from LFC end.

This from @SkyKaveh explains situation really well.

One caveat: at 19.00 there were no ticket checks, searches here.

Maybe that was plan: weed out forged tickets/ticketless fans here

If so it was a terrible plan, a narrow vortex with little space to turn people back

Rob Draper (@draper_rob) May 29, 2022

When you got under the bridge shown, I looked back and saw this. Remember, Im taking these photos at 19.28 because I can sense the chaos coming. They wouldnt use the road to release pressure. Thousands of fans are arriving behind

When you got under the bridge shown, I looked back and saw this. Remember, Im taking these photos at 19.28 because I can sense the chaos coming. They wouldnt use the road to release pressure. Thousands of fans are arriving behind

Rob Draper (@draper_rob) May 29, 2022

I could sense thin police line holding people back wouldnt hold not because of belligerence altho by now there was frustration exacerbated by the kettling but because sheer weight of pressure from behind. Sure enough, mins later I saw riot police moving in that way.

At this point it may be worth referencing the stadium plan. Were passing under the main road to south to Gate X. Its 19.30. Were within metres of LFC end. But now, incredibly, things got worse. (I started texting UEFA officials at this point to warn them of chaos)

Rob Draper (@draper_rob) May 29, 2022

There was walkway, around 7-8m wide, up to concourse to LFC end. But incredibly this was shut. Instead we were herded on to pavement, around 1-2m wide, alongside main road. As you can imagine, this took forever. This was when riot police barged thru

We were now being directed AWAY from the LFC end. Worse, gates U, T, S and R were all shut. Who took this operational decision? Was the concourse dangerously overcrowded? (Didnt look that way) Kettling 1000s of fans into 1 corner 90mins before KOFF, closing gates, seemed mad.

By now I was beginning to worry for myself. (Previously I was more worried for those behind) Again, incredibly, there were Portacabins obstructing the path. We had to shuffle round, at right angles, pretty much single file. I recall thinking why hadnt these been removed?

On top of Portacabins there were police. One officer was mocking fans. There was a female officer and (stereotype alert) I thought she might be more responsive. Tried to get her attention saying Its dangerous! The blind fans with guides were still working their way thru

Damning footage

James Dart (@James_Dart) May 29, 2022

We ended up in corner at gate N, which was Real Madrid end. It was now about 19.55. Ahead was a wall of what looked like Real Madrid fans. There was nowhere to go but gate N which is maybe 4-5m wide. There were 1000s of fans heading that way, to the 1 narrow gate which was open.

There had been no ticket checks up to this point. It was impossible to get thru. Q wasnt moving and clearly wasnt going to move. By now there were whistles, tension + flustered UEFA officials, bemused police, overwhelmed stewards. gate N had 5 or 6 people checking tickets

Not that it matters more, but I could see corporate ticket holders unable to get in and enjoy hospitality for which theyd paid top $. At this point I shamelessly played my get out jail card, spoke to police, showed my media credentials and was ushered thru a side entrance

So, thanks to them. But it shouldnt be like that. This is about 20.00, an hour before KOFF. It seemed clear to me the fans Id left behind were unlikely to get in. Important to note that at this stage noone had tried to climb barriers, rush gates, etc.

On stadium concourse it seemed quiet. I could see no reasons why fans were being locked out. UEFA claim that forged tickets at turnstiles had caused backlog. Obvs I didnt see that. But my experience was the backlog was caused by organisational ineptitude

Clearly situation degenerated once Id left. Increasingly frustrated and kettled fans, anxious for KOFF, ratcheted up the chaos. There were some examples of some fans trying to climb fences but watch this from @marcosbenito9 (in Spanish but pics tell a story):

?”Ha sido una de las mayores CATSTROFES que he vivido nunca”?

??”Pareca una GUERRA”??@marcosbenito9, claro y conciso tras los altercados en la previa a la final de Champions.


El Chiringuito TV (@elchiringuitotv) May 29, 2022

He specifically says that fans scaling fences and running in were local youths. Obviously its hard to tell but none of those in shots have LFC colours. Indeed a LFC fans tries to stop one, doing better job than stewards.

I wld guess that chaos last night was caused by the terrible logistics. Once chaos ensued, then bad actors sought to exploit it. Police responded with tear gas, pepper spray. The police statement saying they saying they quickly restored order is laughable were it not so serious.

One feature of Lord Justice Taylor report into Hillsborough was the complete lack of sensible response from police on ground because they didnt have authority to change plans. Senior commanders were elsewhere. This is exactly what happened last night.

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