Liverpool fans recall the Champions League final at the Stade de France: “Since then, I’ve felt the need to stay home as much as I can.”

L’Equipe have met several Liverpool supporters who attended the Champions League final between LFC and Real Madrid held at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, on May 28 last year. Before the match, thousands of Liverpool fans struggled to get inside the ground due to lengthy queues, closed gates, organisational chaos and tear-gassing from the French police. Before and after the game, Real Madrid and Liverpool fans alike were subjected to muggings. The UEFA review regarding the events has exonerated Liverpool fans and firmly put the blame on French authorities and UEFA themselves. The report on the events of May 28 found no trace of the “massive and industrial ticket fraud” denounced by France’s Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin. 

As the Reds and Real Madrid meet again in the Champions League last 16 first leg tonight at Anfield, many Liverpool fans are still psychologically scarred from the events on May 28. “Since the final, I feel the need to stay at home as much as I can”, said Tony O’Neill, a 50-year-old Liverpool fan to L’Équipe’s Premier League reporter Pierre-Etienne Minonzio. “Back in July, a party was staged for my 50th birthday. I cancelled everything for I didn’t want to see anybody.” Many Liverpool fans who were in Paris that day share the same feeling. They forgot the game that Real Madrid won that night and have only kept in mind the chaos that surrounded the Stade de France. “I remember holding my father’s hand very strongly in the RER, on our way back to Paris, confided Dan Fieldsend, a writer of several books on all things LFC. “We never talked of all that again.

The chaos Liverpool fans suffered and the blame they had to endure were reminiscent of the tragic events of Hillsborough, where 97 LFC fans died tragically in 1989. “At Saint-Denis, when I found myself in the underpass, I thought about Hillsborough, said Mark Stringer. “Since May 28, I wake up at night in cold sweat, with the feeling of being oppressed.” According to the Hillsborough Survivors Support Alliance, two LFC fans who survived the tragic events of 1989 took their own life since the Saint-Denis final.

Even if the French Senate and the UEFA review both exonerated Liverpool fans and rightly put the blame on the French authorities, Liverpool fans are understandably still angry to have been accused to cause the chaos on May 28. France’s Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin’s accusations on ticketless Liverpool fans and counterfeit tickets has not been forgotten. “He knew he was at fault so he talked about fake tickets to create a diversion, fumes 21-year-old Sam Evans. I still hope he’ll resign.” Liverpool West Derby MP Ian Byrne is more measured. “UEFA and French authorities must clearly acknowledge that all personnel in charge of safety that day have completely failed in their mission.” All Liverpool fans who spoke to L’Équipe share the same fear: that Liverpool and PSG would meet in the latter stage of the Champions League, because none of them want to return in the French capital.

GFFN | Bastien Cheval


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