A series of “systematic malfunctions” caused disruptions during the UEFA Champions League final between Real Madrid and Liverpool in Paris last month, according to a French government report.
The report submitted to Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne and made public on Friday noted several flaws in crowd management, lack of coordination between the transport body – which was on strike – and other public authorities, and a failure to act against individuals who were at the stadium with the intent to commit criminal acts.
“A poorly controlled influx of people to the south of the Stade de France without tickets or with fake tickets, in unprecedented proportions, quickly saturated a security and control system that was insufficiently agile to be able to handle the situation,” said the report.
It said the events of May 28 were the result of an “unusual scale of a combination of lawlessness and criminality.”
The fiasco has seriously damaged France’s image and raised questions over its ability to successfully organize major sporting events, including the 2023 Rugby World Cup and 2024 Olympics and Paralympics, according to the report.
It said the “the causes identified go beyond the individual and collective behavior of supporters,” contradicting claims made by the French interior and sports ministers blaming the chaos on Liverpool supporters who showed up without tickets or with counterfeit ones.
On the issue of fake tickets, the report said it was difficult to precisely verify the figure of 30,000 to 40,000 supporters.
However, it said the Champions League final was the first time that a fraud of such proportion had been witnessed, which undermined the pre-filtering system.
According to the French Football Federation’s estimates, one in every 10 tickets of some 15,000 Liverpool supporters was fake.
At one point, there was a temporary breakdown of the security perimeter by several thousand supporters who were without tickets or had fake ones, the report said.
To restore order and prevent the “forceful infiltration of the stadium by the thugs,” the police had to use tear gas and other measures, it added.
In addition, around 300-400 individuals were part of criminal gangs that intended to commit acts such as theft and violence against foreign tourists, according to the report.
On the eve of the final, 35 complaints were lodged at police stations and 81 individuals arrested. The risk of attacks on individuals and properties was not sufficiently addressed, the report noted.
Among the recommendations for future major sporting events, the report suggested a national coordination system, optimizing crowd flow management, coordination between security services and other authorities, secure and personalized electronic ticketing, as well as modernization of the traffic system around Stade de France.