Liverpool-Real Madrid: Lancashire Post reporter’s first-hand account of tear gas in Paris ahead of Champions League final

Here, he describes firsthand the dangerous sequence of events leading up to the game that has been widely condemned.

There will be a dark familiarity with last night’s events among all who saw their football team play in Europe.

But last night’s overzealous policing, poor stewardship and an outrageous lack of planning have set a new low for UEFA’s handling of club football’s showpiece game in the post- Heizel.

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Liverpool line up outside the stadium in Paris last night

On their way to the stadium, thousands of fans were funneled through a narrow channel with people crammed between a barrier and a wall.

Among them were corporate guests from Fed Ex, MasterCard and other sponsors who got an unwelcome glimpse of what the ordinary fan must endure to watch their team.

Overflowing into the concourse around the impressive Stade de France, it was immediately clear that the turnstiles just around the Liverpool end were closed with closed fencing across them.

Without any information, the behavior of the crowd was – as Merseyside Police later said – ‘exemplary’ as thousands upon thousands of men, women and children waited patiently for entry to this which promised to be the highlight of the season.

Lancashire Post reporter Mike Hill once inside the stadium

All had paid between £50 and £500 for tickets in the hope they would be admitted to a stadium which has previously hosted World Cup, European Championship and Champions League finals.

The doors were still closed as UEFA announced late fans were to blame for the delayed kick-off.

This decision to delay kick-off might be the only steward’s decision they made all night.

The stewards themselves seemed ill-equipped to deal with the situation and as devoid of information as the pleading supporters on the other side of the fences.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp greets traveling fans after the final whistle

When the gate in front of us finally opened at 8.40pm – two hours and 40 minutes after the announcement on the tickets – people rushed through.

There were undoubtedly ticketless fans among the crowd trying to get in.

After a weekend plagued by reports of pickpocketing and worse by French youths, it was clear that there were many who ended up in our section of the pitch without a seat.

The police response to the wave was to fire tear gas canisters indiscriminately into the crowds and break in with shields and batons as they tried to push back the disintegrating queue.

Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson challenges man of the match Thibaut Courtois

Among the melee, I found three distressed little girls who had been separated from their parents and helped them through the chaos at the door.

Without looking after their welfare, I’m sure I would have been assaulted by the police in front of me.

As it was, an officer recognized our fate and nodded to let us through after a quick glance at my ticket.

At that moment, strangers stopped and asked if I was okay as tears streamed down my face amid the choking clouds of tear gas – a four euro bottle of water helping me in somehow clear my vision.

It seems depressing that UEFA and the French authorities have already started the colloquial language of the cover-up.

We’ve seen this before and can spot it from a mile away.

Anyone who is tempted to believe them just thinks it could be your football team, your kids and your parents being tear gassed and worse next time.

We should be grateful – if that’s the right word – that so many working journalists, football officials and members of UEFA’s corporate partner army have been both witnesses and victims of the mess.

In the end, the result on the field does not matter. What matters now is that a thorough, fair and impartial investigation takes place and that the findings are implemented to ensure we never see this again.

What did Liverpool, UEFA and the police say?

Liverpool are said to be furious at UEFA’s “totally inaccurate” initial blame for the delayed start of the late arrival of supporters and have demanded an official investigation.

“We are extremely disappointed with the stadium entry issues and breach of security perimeter that Liverpool supporters faced tonight at the Stade de France,” a statement read.

“It’s the biggest game in European football and fans shouldn’t have to experience the scenes we witnessed tonight.

“We have officially requested a formal investigation into the causes of these unacceptable issues.”

European football’s governing body later said in a statement that the fault lay with “thousands of fans who bought fake tickets that did not work at the turnstiles”.

The Paris police headquarters later issued its own statement saying people without tickets or counterfeits “exerted strong pressure to enter the enclosure”, which delayed access.

A Merseyside Police spokesperson, however, said on Twitter: “MERPOL have been deployed for tonight’s game.

“I can only describe it as the worst European game I have ever worked or experienced.

“I thought the behavior of the fans at the turnstiles was exemplary in shocking circumstances. You weren’t 100% late.”

Fan group Spirit of Shankly described the scenes as “totally chaotic and extremely dangerous”.

And the problems didn’t end there for fans as after the 1-0 loss many were reportedly mugged and robbed by local youths on the 10 minute walk to the stations.