British sports minister to meet his French counterpart to discuss Champions League final shambles

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The British sports minister Nigel Huddleston is set to meet his French counterpart Amelie Oudea-Castera this week to discuss the disturbing scenes before, during and after Liverpool’s Champions League final defeat to Real Madrid in Paris.

The fixture at the Stade de France saw kick-off delayed by 30 minutes whilst spectators were prevented from entering the ground and were targeted with tear gas by the French police as well as being mugged by locals.

At the time, UEFA explained that the delayed start time was a result of fans arriving late to the stadium, but the governing body have since provided an apology to supporters for the ‘frightening and distressing events’ they witnessed outside the stadium.

Huddleston explained that the game will be ‘remembered for all the wrong reasons’ when speaking to the House of Commons earlier today (via The Guardian): “What should have been a celebration of the pinnacle of European football will be remembered for all the wrong reasons and I am shocked and concerned by what has come to light. I welcome the fact that UEFA have commissioned an investigation and issued an apology.

“The French sports minister has also commissioned a review of the delivery of the event and I will be discussing this with her later this week.”

French Interior minister Gerald Darmanin bizarrely defended the use of tear gas and pepper spraying recently and thanked the police force for their forceful tactics.

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Labour MP for West Derby, a area in the east of Liverpool, Ian Byrne, who attended the match was also keen to describe his experiences of the fixture.

Huddleston was responding to an urgent question put forward by Byrne, who was keen to praise the actions of Reds fans for preventing similar events to the Hillsborough tragedy which resulted in 97 Liverpool supporters losing their lives.

“I was there last Saturday in Paris, I was also there at Hillsborough in 1989,” Byrne said (via The Guardian).

“I can say, without any shadow of doubt, that if it was not for the magnificent efforts of the Liverpool supporters last Saturday, we could have had a disaster worse than Hillsborough.

“Last Saturday in Paris, I witnessed first hand shambolic stadium management and the most hostile policing environment at a sporting event I have ever seen. I watched children getting pepper-sprayed, pensioners getting teargassed, and turnstiles and exits shut while thousands queued for hours waiting to attend the blue riband football occasion of the season. We were treated like animals for wanting to watch a game of football.

“Then, shamefully, the smears and lies, straight from the Hillsborough playbook, were used by the authorities to avoid accountability for the horrific events. Never, ever again should this be tolerated, in this country or around the globe. Enough is enough.”

UEFA have commissioned an ‘Independent Review to identify shortcomings and responsibilities of all entities involved in the organisation of the final’, but who knows if that will actually result in anything being done.

Once again the spectators, that have spent hundreds and thousands of pounds to travel to Europe are getting the blame for simply wanting to attend a football match.

And not just any football match, it was the biggest game of the European football calendar and should’ve been the best experience of many people’s lives.

Sadly, it was the exact opposite, so let’s hope something is actually done in the coming weeks and months.

#Ep53 of The Empire of the Kop Podcast: The Paris debacle, reviewing Liverpool’s season… & more!

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