SOCCER

Champions League Final Kicks Off Late After Crowd Issues

May 28, 2022, 2:13 PM
champions-league-final-pregame-ceremony...
PARIS, FRANCE - MAY 28: General view inside the stadium prior to the UEFA Champions League final match between Liverpool FC and Real Madrid at Stade de France on May 28, 2022 in Paris, France.

PARIS (AP) — Police deployed tear gas on supporters waiting in long lines to get into the Stade de France and security struggled with fans desperate to see the Champions League final that was delayed by 37 minutes on Saturday.

Angry Liverpool fans held in the lines were seen hanging onto railings and heard shouting: “Let us in. We’ve got tickets.”

There were many instances of fans breaking through security and attempting to get into the stadium. The Associated Press saw two fans — one was wearing Liverpool attire — wrestled to the ground by stewards and bundled out of the gates.

Three more fans were seen evading stewards and sprinting through the concourse and into the bottom level of the stadium. Others climbed the fences instead.

Supporter Colm Lacey saw “children crying, people trapped” outside the entrances.

“People started jumping the queue, then they ripped the gate open and then there was a push,” Lacey said.

Police officers with batons and riot shields ran from gate to gate to prevent pockets of fans forcing their way into the stadium without showing tickets. One policeman collapsed to the ground and had to be helped by other officers. Officers used tear gas on Liverpool fans on repeated occasions.
One Liverpool fan kissed his ticket and looked to the sky after finally getting through security.

The scenes were reminiscent of the chaos outside Wembley Stadium before the European Championship final last year between England and Italy.

There were long lines of Liverpool fans still outside the stadium when there was 40 minutes to kickoff.

Then, about 15 minutes before the scheduled kickoff of 9 p.m. local time (1900 GMT), an announcement was made that there would be a delay, blaming the late arrival of fans to the stadium. It was greeted by jeers inside the stadium, given those fans had already endured long queues.

The game eventually started at 9.37 p.m. local time.

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