FIASCO | 

Liverpool legend John Aldridge blasts French police and Paris authorities as 'liars'

'Senior French ministers have continued to claim all week that Liverpool fans were at fault, but they won't get away their bull****'
Riot police watch Liverpool FC fans during the Uefa Champions League final match at the Stade de France

Riot police watch Liverpool FC fans during the Uefa Champions League final match at the Stade de France

John Aldridge

We came close to a major disaster before last weekend's Champions League cup final - and the French authorities cannot lie their way out of the chaos they created.

I was in Paris for the Liverpool v Real Madrid game and it was clear that problems were already brewing two days before the match, with little gangs of thugs hanging around street corners looking to mug and attack vulnerable visitors.

Then, what happened ahead of kick-off added to the mayhem and very nearly created a situation that could have led to the deaths of Liverpool fans.

Let's put to rest some of the myths spun by the French police and the politicians in recent days because the world can see they are lying.

I can't tell you how many people have told me the same story about what happened last Saturday, so it's time the record was set straight and the facts placed on the table.

We've all heard the stories suggesting the problems were created by Liverpool supporters turning up late for the game with fake tickets, but those yarns have been shown up to be fabricated.

So many people tried to get to the game two and three hours before kick-off but were ushered into this narrow tunnel by French police, creating a bottleneck that was terrifying.

When they finally managed to squeeze through the tunnel - which clearly wasn't designed to accommodate the volume of fans in attendance - the gates to the stadium were closed and the police began firing tear gas and pepper spray at the Liverpool fans.

Amid it all, there were scores of local gangs hanging around the crowd and pick-pocketing their way through victims.

Liverpool supporters outside the Stade de France

Liverpool supporters outside the Stade de France

These pathetic cowards were not brave enough to take on groups of Liverpool fans, so they targeted the women, children and elderly - and it seems this is now a major problem for all tourists visiting the French capital.

Jason McAteer's wife was among those who was mugged and they stole her expensive watch, while Alan Kennedy - who scored Liverpool's winner in the 1981 European Cup final - was also caught up in the mess and was left very shaken up by what he went through.

I also saw tweets from former England captain Gary Lineker, who was caught up in the chaos, while several prominent politicians and members of the media also saw what happened.

Thierry Henry was among the prominent French voices suggesting these problems were all down to those organising the match and not the Liverpool fans, so they can't get away with this by creating their own story.

The French police and the Paris authorities have been shown up as liars as they continually make public statements to say all the problems were down to Liverpool fans showing up late for the game with fake tickets.

In an age of social media and camera phones, what happened in Paris last Saturday has been so well documented. Even if the French continue to make up stories to cover their own backsides, it won't wash.

Senior French ministers Gerald Darmanin and Amelie Oudea-Castera have continued to claim all week that Liverpool fans were at fault for the mayhem, but they won't get away their bull****.

Everyone appreciates that the Liverpool fans are innocent victims of horrible organisation and ridiculous policing.

I saw the warning signs flashing on Friday in Paris, as the police were all masked and giving off a vibe that they were ready to go into battle. Many also had no numbers on their uniforms, so none of them could be identified if they crossed the line - maybe now we know why they wanted to remain anonymous.

These police and security officials were unhelpful, menacing and seemingly ready to attack what they believed to be an army of football hooligans arriving in their city, but that simply wasn't the case.

Apparently, Rangers fans suffered similar treatment when they travelled to Spain for the Europa League final last month and the time has come to demand change.

Travelling English fans deserved their reputation for their horrible behaviour in the 1980s, but times have changed and a lot of supporters I saw in Paris last weekend were dads with their sons, elderly football lovers and women looking forward to the biggest game of the season.

Sadly, the French authorities didn't care who they traumatised. with the tear gas and pepper spray, it was a dramatic over- reaction to a situation that didn't need that kind of aggression.

These police seemed happy to ignore the behaviour of these little gits robbing and punching visitors to their city, as their focus was all on trying to make life hell for Liverpool fans.

Now the time has come for someone to stand up to Uefa and make them pay for what happened, because some Liverpool fans have been left shattered by what they were put through.

Uefa issued an apology and has said they will launch an investigation into what happened in Paris last weekend, but I wouldn't hold my breath with that because all they are interested in is their sponsors and making sure their pockets are lined by the money they provide.

Yet events like last weekend leave a lasting scar on the game and it shouldn't be swept under the carpet by French authorities who are clearly trying to paper over their own incompetence.

The truth is the Stade de France and Paris are not fit to host major events and I would have grave concerns about the prospect of the Olympic Games being staged in that city in 2024.

If they can't host a single sporting event like the Champions League final, they have no hope of staging a successful Olympics.

So unless they own up, learn from their mistakes and change their ways, I think the Olympics should be taken off Paris and put somewhere that can run a major sporting event.

I'd never go back to that unwelcoming, crime-ridden, minging city and my hope is all the French politicians and police chiefs who know they have been lying through their teeth over what happened are forced out of their jobs.

No one trying to attend a sporting event deserves to be treated the way Liverpool fans were last weekend and I hope we never see scenes like that again.

Sadly, given the fact that Uefa are incompetent in so much of what they do, I suspect this will be brushed under the carpet and innocent football fans will be blamed all over again.


Today's Headlines

More Soccer

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices