Liverpool supporter groups criticise anti-pitch invasion fence constructed for Coupe de France final

The installation of sharp fences at the Stade de France for the Coupe de France final between FC Nantes and Toulouse FC has caused outrage among Liverpool supporters, especially evoking the tragedies of Heysel and Hillsborough. The spiked fences – which surround the entirety of the French national stadium’s seated interior – are intended to prevent pitch invasions but have been criticised for the risks they pose in case of a stampede.

Liverpool’s Association of Disabled Supporters expressed shock at the move, stating that the installation of fences in a football stadium is a “horror”, and the responsible authorities seem to have learned nothing from past tragedies. They demanded that the fences be removed.

The Hillsborough disaster, in which 97 people died, was caused by a stampede that crushed victims against the fences in the stands. The association accused the French authorities of “regressing” in terms of safety and security and “treating people like animals”.

A British journalist and Liverpool supporter, Daniel Austin, also criticised the move, telling RMC Sport that “France has regressed in terms of safety and security”, and sports fans were not safe in the country. He argued that France should not host any major international sporting event “until significant changes are made to security and law enforcement.”

Football Supporters Europe joined the criticism, highlighting the dangers of such measures in the light of past tragedies. The French National Association of Supporters also expressed anger at the move.

The fences have been erected for a Coupe de France final which is embroiled in political contestation against the presidency of Emmanuel Macron, after the 45-year-old’s government pushed through retirement age reforms, which has seen mass civil disruption across the country.

There were plans in place to disrupt final itself, through planned power outages as well as a ‘red card to Macron’ protest during the match which has been subsequently banned by Paris’ police authorities.

GFFN | George Boxall

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