Minister Sides With British Fans As Fallout Over Champions League Final Rumbles On

"There was no justification for that kind of behaviour," digital minister Chris Philp criticised the French police's response to Liverpool supporters.
Liverpool fans cover their mouths and noses as they queue to gain entry to the stadium for the UEFA Champions League Final at the Stade de France, Paris, on Saturday
Liverpool fans cover their mouths and noses as they queue to gain entry to the stadium for the UEFA Champions League Final at the Stade de France, Paris, on Saturday
Peter Byrne via PA Wire/PA Images

Digital minister Chris Philp was quick to show his support for the Liverpool fans who clashed with the French police during the controversial Champions League final in Paris.

Ahead of the match between Real Madrid and Liverpool on Saturday, the French police fired tear gas and pepper spray at some UK fans while they were waiting to get into the stadium.

Paris police report that they made 105 arrests at the game in a bid to control the crowd.

However, Philp told Sky News on Monday: “I was horrified to see those pictures of fans, including some children, disabled fans, being pepper-sprayed by police.

“From the pictures I saw, there was no obvious justification for that kind of behaviour.”

Over the weekend, the culture secretary Nadine Dorries described it as “deeply concerning”. She added: “I urge UEFA to launch a formal investigation into what went wrong and why.”

Philp made it clear he sided with Dorries, telling Sky’s Kay Burley: “Nadine, I think, is quite right to call for UEFA to investigate what happened here, because we don’t want to see UEFA fans, least of all children and disabled fans, being pepper-sprayed by police.”

European football’s governing body UEFA has said it planned to “review these matters urgently”.

The French sports ministry has also called for a meeting with UEFA, the French Football Association, police and stadium officials today.

It comes after the French interior minister Gerald Darmanin’s tweet to blame British fans for the chaos.

He tweeted on Saturday: “Thousands of British ‘supporters’ without tickers or with counterfeit tickets, forced entry and sometimes assaulted the stewards.

“Thank you to the very many police forces mobilised this evening in this difficult context.”

Philp completely dismissed this angle on Monday, claiming the pictures he saw “did not depict Liverpool fans doing anything of the sort”.

The kick-off for the highly-anticipated match was delayed by 36 minutes, as UEFA initially blamed the “late arrival” of fans. The governing body later changed their explanation to “security reasons”.

Still, UEFA claimed the entry into the stadium at the Liverpool end was “blocked by thousands of fans who had purchased fake tickets which did not work”, although British supporters have repeatedly denied this.

Fans have told the BBC they were afraid and felt unsafe ahead of the match. Others left early, keen to make it home after the conflict.

Merseyside Police had officers in the French capital who attended the match and reported “the vast majority of fans behaved in an exemplary manner, arriving at turnstiles early and queueing as directed”.

Labour MP Ian Byrne has also written to foreign secretary Liz Truss, and called for an apology from UEFA and the French police for the treatment of the Liverpool fans.

Liverpool lost to Real Madrid by 1-0.


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