French government tries to blame Liverpool fans for aggressive policing

Liverpool fans
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French police teargassed and pepper sprayed Liverpool fans before the Champions League final on Saturday 28 May. Fans waiting at turnstiles were pepper sprayed through the gates by the police. Some, including children, even had teargas used on them. The unrest caused a delay to the planned kick-off time.

Predictably, French government officials and football organisers have tried to blame the fans for the actions of the police. Organiser UEFA (Union of European Football Associations)’s initial message to explain the delay was to say that fans were “arriving late”:

French sports minister Amélie Oudéa-Castéra said:

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What we really have to bear in mind is that what happened, first of all, was this mass gathering of the British supporters of the Liverpool club, without tickets, or with counterfeit tickets.

However, as one social media user pointed out, police propaganda wasn’t going to hold water here:

First-hand accounts

While singer Camila Cabello was singing and dancing in the stadium, fans outside were in distress. A couple of days later, we can see first-hand accounts from both fans and journalists as to what was really going on.

Gary Lineker said the reaction from police was “unjustified”:

Meanwhile, journalist Andy Kelly said:

Some fans showed tickets through the gates:

Journalist Simon Hughes shared details of the terrible organisation at the stadium entrance:

Hughes also recounted information given by a UEFA official outside the stadium:

Moreover, sports writer Oliver Holt said:

Presenter Paul Machin also called out the lack of organisation:

And Liverpool left-back Andy Robertson said the treatment of the fans was “disgraceful”:


Of course, this is far from the first time that terrible organisation and aggressive policing has happened at a football match. Just last month, Liverpool commemorated the 33rd anniversary of the Hillsborough tragedy, in which 97 fans died. As The Canary’s Joe Glenton wrote:

The tragedy would come to symbolize Thatcher-era Britain – a byword for class war, corruption and gutter press lies.

All of those who died that day were Liverpool fans. In the aftermath, the right-wing gutter press and other sections of the British establishment launched a war of slander and obfuscation against the city and its people.

Disappointingly, some people took to social media to chastise Liverpool fans for the Hillsborough disaster. Eric Bocat highlighted this:

The Athletic‘s Adam Crafton pointed out that bad organisation is becoming worryingly commonplace:

In fact, just a couple of weeks ago at the Europa League Final in Seville, Rangers fans complained about policing around the stadium. Football Scotland reported:

Rangers have revealed they are continuing to work with Frankfurt and supporters groups to get answers over the shocking organisation of the Europa League Final in Seville.

Fans were left without water inside the stadium while there were also a lot of complaints about policing around the ground.

French police

Another thing that’s becoming worryingly commonplace is aggressive French policing. As advocacy organisation CAGE said:

With the gilets jaunes (yellow vests) movement a few years ago, social sciences researcher Mathieu Rigouste made it clear that the violence of French police is not new – just more visible:

The modern-day French police are shaped by the violence of their history – many of their methods of surveillance and repression found their way to the homeland from the repertoire of forces in charge of “indigenous north Africans” in former French colonies.

We can never trust governments or police to tell the truth about the violence and mistreatment for which they’re responsible. It’s only from first-hand accounts and footage on social media that we can piece together the despicable actions of aggressive police forces. The treatment of the Liverpool fans this weekend was just the latest example of French police using colonial tactics to attack people.

Featured image via screenshot YouTube/Sky Sports News

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