French opposition politicians have criticised the government over policing at the Champions League final in Paris on Saturday night, saying the chaotic scenes showed a poor image of France.
Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the radical left leader, whose left alliance is seeking to win seats in forthcoming parliament elections, said the “lamentable” and “worrying” scenes suggested France and its security services were not prepared for sports events such as next year’s Rugby World Cup or the 2024 Paris Olympics.
There were chaotic scenes before the delayed kick-off in the match between Liverpool and Real Madrid at the Stade de France as security checks led to bottlenecks and police deployed pepper spray or teargas.
Mélenchon said the police’s job was to “ensure calm” and “prevent things going badly” but that they had done the opposite and “aggravated” the situation. He said the police should have been better prepared, including for the arrival of fans from England in large numbers. He said that instead there had been “the habitual doctrine” of what he called confrontational policing, which he said constantly led to clashes and trouble at demonstrations in Paris.
The newspaper Le Parisien said: “These few hours of chaos have left an aftertaste of fiasco for organisers. They raise questions one year ahead of the Rugby world cup and two years ahead of the Olympics.”
The French champion boxer Estelle Mossely, who was among the crowds blocked outside the stadium, tweeted that it was “scandalous” and that she had been “blocked for more than an hour, gassed and shoved”.
In the early hours of Sunday morning, French police authorities said 68 arrests had been made overnight around the stadium, and 39 people had been taken in for police questioning. FranceTVInfo, the public broadcaster, reported that one of those arrested was selling fake tickets and had 50 tickets on him. Le Monde reported that the police authorities said 115 supporters had been slightly injured and four people were evacuated for medical attention.
In a tweet sent just before midnight, Gérald Darmanin, the interior minister, appeared to blame Liverpool fans for the problems.
“Thousands of British ‘supporters’, without tickets, or with false tickets, have forced the entrances, and sometimes been violent to stadium staff,” he said. He thanked the police for their work “in this difficult context”.
A police statement issued in the early hours of Sunday morning said that before the match “numerous” supporters without tickets, or with fake tickets, “disturbed access to the stadium”. The police said some people had taken advantage of this to climb the fence protecting the stadium entrance.
“The rapid intervention of the police allowed a return to calm and for troublemakers to be evacuated away from the entrance,” the statement said. It concluded that after the match, supporters were dispersed without difficulty and there were “no major incidents” in the two fanzones elsewhere in the French capital.
A separate statement from the Paris police said the fanzones had been evacuated and closed “calmly” with “no incidents”.
The French journalist Remy Buisine posted a video on Twitter which he said showed police “charging” a bar near the Liverpool fanzone in the Nation area.