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Victory for Madrid, Fiasco for Paris

Roar writer Chloe Ferreux questions the capability of French sport to pull off the upcoming Olympics after the disastrous 2022 Champions League Final.

On Saturday May 23, Real Madrid won the Champions League final 1-0 against Liverpool. Although the game was one of the most memorable in Europe, it is the fiasco of the organization at the Stade de France that will be remembered longest. For the second time this season, Parisians have been left disappointed by a Real Madrid match. But this time the consequences are far more important.

It’s a few hours before kick-off. Around the stadium, an underground passageway is dangerously crowded with Liverpool fans. Most of them, despite their tickets, will never get into the stadium. Some, on the other side of the stadium, climbed over the long barriers to gain access to the stadium without tickets.

At another entrance, the French police used tear gas against Liverpool supporters. The debacle was such that the match had to be postponed for thirty-six minutes. A few hours later, more than 238 slight injuries and 105 arrests were reported. The entire intervention of the French police has thus been called into question.

A French investigation that raises questions

Following the event, the French Minister of the Interior, Gérald Darmanin, was quick to take up the case. According to him, the “chaos” at the Stade de France was due to “a massive fraud (…) of fake tickets”. Thus, on the Paris side, the fault lies with the “30,000 to 40,000” Liverpool fans without tickets and not with the police because without their intervention, there “could have been deaths”. The French sports minister has said that there will be compensation for the 27,000 unactivated tickets.

On the other side of the Channel, Boris Johnson expressed his disappointment at the treatment of Liverpool fans, saying that a “full investigation” must be carried out to understand the unseen side of the organisation.

To address this crisis, hearings have been taken over by French senators. However, the Senate has had to face a major problem in its attempt to shed light on the incident at the Stade de France. The parliamentarians learned that the video surveillance images of the Stade de France have been deleted after passing their automatic seven-day deadline for storage. According to Erwan Le Prévost, director of institutional relations at the FFF (French Federation of Football): “The images are available for seven days. They are then automatically destroyed”.

The question now is why the Bobigny prosecutor’s office, which is investigating the events at the Stade de France, had not immediately sought to obtain the images. Steve Rotheram, mayor of Liverpool, expressed his shock at the disappearance of the surveillance videos.

A dramatic event for France just two years before the Paris Olympics

While the Senate investigation continues, raising new questions, this inexplicable chaos risks tarnishing the image of the next major sporting event in France: the 2024 Olympic Games.  Especially when we know that the famous Stade de France will host the opening and closing ceremonies of the next summer Olympics, as well the athletics and rugby events. Paris is also due to host the Rugby World Cup next year.

An initial government report published on 28 May stated that the “highly publicised scenes of operations to restore order (…) have raised questions from outside observers about our country’s ability to deliver and succeed in major sporting events”. While Paris dreamed of the success of the London Olympics, the international public may be a little more concerned.


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