On 21st June, supporters’ representatives travelled to Paris to provide evidence to the French Senate Law and Culture Committee, which is conducting an inquiry into this year’s chaotic Uefa Champions League final.
The delegation included:
- Joe Blott, Spirit of Shankly (SOS)
- Ted Morris, Liverpool Disabled Supporters Association (LDSA)
- Emilio Dumas, Real Madrid socio (remote participation)
- Pierre Barthélemy, Football Supporters Europe (FSE)
- Ronan Evain, Football Supporters Europe (FSE)
The hearings began at 16:30 CET, lasting approximately 90 minutes, and are available to watch on the Senate’s website.
From the outset, the Chairman of the inquiry, Francois-Noël Buffet, made it clear that “supporters were not the cause of what happened”—a reference to discredited claims made by French interior minister Gérald Darmanin. The subsequent testimony proved as much. Each participant outlined a litany of organisational failures that led to potentially life-threatening crushes outside the turnstiles, the tear gassing of peaceful spectators, and multiple changes to the kick-off time.
Morris highlighted the impact of these failings on disabled supporters:
“I started to receive messages saying disabled people were being tear gassed and were terrified. Some feared for their lives. It was only thanks to the great behaviour of Liverpool fans that a major catastrophe was avoided. Nobody in a position of power came to help disabled fans.”
The behaviour of the police, on the other hand, was strongly condemned by Blott:
“Liverpool fans had travelled across Europe this season—to Spain, Portugal and Italy—with zero arrests, zero known risk supporters, zero preventive arrests and zero ejections from stadia. Over 25,000 fans showed exemplary behaviour all season long.
“Why was the good behaviour record of Liverpool fans ignored? The police were stuck in the 1980s and believed lies about the Hillsborough disaster. The hooligans that French police spent months preparing for from Liverpool simply do not exist. They did not alter their tactics when no hooligans arrived, and instead treated families, children, and people with disabilities like criminals.”
Blott finished by demanding “a full apology and a retraction of the lies.”
Dumas was equally critical about the treatment of Real Madrid supporters, pointing out that many were victims of mass criminality before and after the game. His conclusion was damning:
“I have been to two other Champions League finals in Paris. Eight in total. On all those occasions, I have never experienced anything quite like this.”
These criticisms were echoed by Evain and Barthélemy, who attended the match as observers through a Uefa accreditation scheme. Both lamented France’s “outdated and dangerous” approach to big sporting events, before calling for “a more modern approach to policing.”
Later in the proceedings, Buffet said that the testimony of supporters “is extremely important”, adding that the events on the night were “unacceptable.”
FSE will continue to assist the Senate’s investigation if called upon. We will also maintain pressure on other relevant authorities, including Uefa, to learn and apply the lessons Saint-Denis so the events of 28th May, 2022, are never repeated.
You can read SOS’ full statement on the hearings.
Ronan Evain also penned an article for The Guardian explaining France’s long and problematic history of policing football fans.
Read our joint-statement with Eintracht Frankfurt and Rangers F.C. about the 2022 Uefa Europa League final in Sevilla.