France’s sports minister will meet with UEFA and other officials to discuss violent scenes at the Champions League final.
French police have been criticised for repeatedly firing tear gas and pepper spray at Liverpool fans waiting to get into the stadium in Paris on Saturday.
Amelie Oudea-Castera, the sports minister, said the meeting later this morning – which will include police, stadium officials and the French Football Association – aims to “draw lessons” from the event.
The development fell short of a full investigation, which has been demanded by the UK.
She blamed Liverpool fans on Monday morning, telling French radio RTL: “What happened, first of all, was this mass gathering of the British supporters of the Liverpool club, without tickets, or with fake tickets.”
Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries urged UEFA to launch a formal inquiry, saying the footage and accounts from Liverpool fans and the media are “deeply concerning”.
“It is in the interests of everyone involved to understand what happened and to learn lessons from these events,” she said.
Several British MPs expressed their support.
Minister Chris Philp said he was “horrified” to see pictures of children and disabled fans being pepper sprayed, and he saw “no obvious justification”.
He told Sky News’ Kay Burley: “We need UEFA to properly investigate exactly what happened and get to the bottom of it.”
‘Narrative of lies’
Ian Byrne, the Labour MP for Liverpool West Derby, was at the match in Paris and said he had never witnessed such scenes since the 1989 Hillsborough disaster, when 97 Liverpool fans died after a crush developed at Sheffield’s Hillsborough stadium.
He said he was seeing a similar “narrative of lies” beginning to build.
French police and UEFA, European football’s governing body, have blamed Liverpool fans, but the club and Merseyside Police dispute their accounts.
French interior minister Gerard Darmanin said ticketless British fans had caused delays that led to thousands of fans being stuck outside the perimeter fence for hours.
UEFA said “thousands of fans” had tried to get in using fake tickets, which would not work on turnstiles.
The Paris police prefecture said they then “employed strong force” to try to enter the venue, prompting others to do the same.
Mr Byrne has written to Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, urging her to demand a formal investigation and apologies from UEFA and French authorities.
In his letter, he said: “The French authorities and UEFA are quite simply covering their own backs with this narrative.
“As a Liverpool fan, I was in Paris for the match and I can honestly say that the situation outside the ground was one of the most horrendous experiences of my life – and as a Hillsborough survivor, I do not make this comment lightly.”
He called for an end to the treatment of football fans as “second-class citizens” and “animals”.
Liverpool FC and Liverpool mayor Joanne Anderson have also requested a formal investigation.
Sports minister Nigel Huddleston voiced his support, saying it was unclear why access to the stadium was so limited.
Merseyside Police observers said the majority of supporters waiting outside the security perimeter had behaved in an “exemplary” manner, which did not justify the use of tear gas.
The chemical was reportedly deployed again at the fan zone on the Cours de Vincennes after the final whistle.
‘A night from hell’
Kelly Simmons, the women’s professional game director at the Football Association, said it had been a “night from hell”.
She said she had been crushed on the way in, unable to move for 90 minutes.
She said all the fans near her “behaved impeccably”.
“It was just sheer volume and nowhere to go as no gates open,” she said.
She said she was also tear-gassed on the way out as she was near a “minor skirmish”.
Liverpool defender Andy Robertson told Sky Sports News it had “not been well organised” and a friend he gave a ticket to was accused of holding a counterfeit ticket.
Fellow defender Joel Matip’s brother and pregnant sister-in-law were reportedly forced to flee.
To make matters worse, many Liverpool fans reported being assaulted and robbed by local youths after leaving the stadium.