French ministers to face Senate over Stade de France football chaos

Sports Minister Amélie Oudéa-Castéra, left, and French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin attend a press conference following a meeting on security after incidents during the Champions League final at the Stade France stadium, Monday, May 30, 2022 in Paris. The British government says it's deeply concerned over the treatment of Liverpool supporters by French authorities, who blamed fans for unrest at the Champions League final amid overcrowding outside the Stade de France. (AP Photo/Jean-Francois Badias)

Four days after the pandemonium that marred Saturday’s Champions League final between Liverpool and Real Madrid at the Stade de France, France’s interior and sports ministries will be questioned by the Senate on Wednesday.

Gérald Darmanin and Amélie Oudéa-Castéra have been highly criticized for their staunch defense of the French system and for blaming Liverpool supporters for ticket theft, security breaches, and the delayed start of the match.

After being forced to wait for hours to enter the stadium, throngs of Liverpool fans, including children, were assaulted with teargas and pepper spray.

While Darmanin claimed that between 30,000 and 40,000 Liverpool supporters entered the stadium without tickets or with counterfeit tickets, UEFA and French football federation sources informed AFP that only 2,800 bogus tickets were identified.

Meanwhile, Oudéa-Castéra reprimanded the English team for abandoning its fans in the “wild,” saying that “Real Madrid did a better job of controlling its fans.”
Liverpool FC responds

The president of Liverpool FC, Tom Werner, promptly wrote a letter chiding the Sports Minister for being “irresponsible, unprofessional, and extremely insulting” in response to her remarks.

The charges have rekindled memories of the Hillsborough disaster of 1989, in which 97 people were murdered in a stampede for which Liverpool supporters were blamed until bad policing decisions were acknowledged.

Tuesday, Oudéa-Castéra appeared to retract her criticism when she stated that Reds fans with legitimate tickets to the game were “certainly entitled an apology.”
The issue has taken a political turn in the run-up to this month’s legislative elections, shedding light on France’s capacity to organize major sporting events a year before the 2023 Rugby World Cup and two years before the 2024 Paris Olympics.

The ministers will be questioned by the Senate panels for law and culture for two hours beginning at 5:00 p.m., with the president of the Law Commission, Francois-Nol Buffet, telling FranceInfo that he expected to hear “speeches of truth.”

Buffet, a member of the right-wing opposition Republican party that controls the Senate, stated that “lessons” must be learned from the situation so that the international community can have confidence in France’s ability to manage international crises.

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