Eyewitnesses have described how stadium security went “horribly wrong” as pregnant women and children were among those tear gassed by French police during chaotic scenes at the Champions League final.
One Liverpool supporter who attended the game with her young son, said: “We queued for over two hours. All the fans were squeezed through an underpass and then a series of cordons set up by the police. It was horrendous.
“As we waited we were sprayed with gas. My son was petrified.”
Kick-off in the match between Liverpool and Real Madrid was delayed by 36 minutes on Saturday following overcrowding fears at the Stade de France in Paris.
Thousands of Liverpool supporters attempting to access the stadium ahead of the original start were trapped in slow-moving queues for more than two hours outside the venue.
Eyewitnesses said security searches and problems scanning tickets led to delays but Uefa, the governing body of football in Europe, said it was caused by the number of fake tickets.
Video footage also purportedly showed some people, fearing a crush, being lifted over walls to access the concourse where turnstiles are situated.
Sports presenter Carrie Brown described the moment when French police “charged and tear gassed” parents with children at Gate Z.
Speaking from the side of the pitch, Ms Brown told bein SPORTS: “An hour-and-a-half before kick-off Liverpool fans were here, they were queueing but they couldn’t get into the ground.
“More scary, when the gates were opened after that delayed kick-off, riot police [surrounded] those peaceful fans. I saw a little scuffle, a little push, and they went in; they barged in and teargassed.”
She continued: “One image I will never forget: a kid on his dad’s shoulders using a Liverpool shirt to cover his mouth as he protected himself from the tear gas.
“My throat is raw. Many of my colleagues are struggling to see from the effects of tear gas. This went horribly wrong.”
Liverpool centre forward Joël Matip’s brother, Marvin, and his pregnant wife were forced to flee to a nearby restaurant when police deployed tear gas as they tried to enter the stadium, reported Sky Sports Germany.
Marvin Matip later told broadcaster Florian Plettenberg: “The organisation around and in the stadium is unworthy of a Champions League final. Using tear gas in areas with children and uninvolved fans is dangerous.”
BBC sports reporter Nick Parrott said he was pepper sprayed by security staff outside the ground ahead of the match.
He said: “I’ve been home and away and Champions League finals before and I’ve never been pepper sprayed before.”
Mr Parrott said Liverpool fans were “behaving themselves” and had been trying to move back from the gates to try and get in but the authorities seemed to be “not doing nothing”.
Uefa blamed thousands of fans who “purchased fake tickets which did not work in the turnstile” at the Liverpool end.
However Liverpool defender Andy Robertson undermined the allegation when he told reporters: “My tickets were through the club and somebody told one of my mates he has got a fake ticket – which I can assure definitely wasn’t. Then the French police decide to throw tear gas on fans and families.”
Brandon Lewis, the Northern Ireland secretary, said the authorities need to “get to the bottom“ of what happened.
When asked about fans claims of aggressive policing by French officers, Mr Lewis told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge On Sunday programme: “It is not the first time we have seen this overseas, actually.
“But it is concerning to see that people either didn’t get into the stadium or were treated in the way that some of them seem to have been treated, with a very aggressive approach.”
UK sports minister Nigel Huddleston said: “We are very concerned about the upsetting scenes around the Stade de France [on Saturday night] and shall be working with the appropriate authorities to find out what happened and why.”
Liverpool lost 1-0 in Europe’s showpiece final after a 59th minute goal from Real’s Vinícius Júnior helped the Spanish side lift its 14th Champions League trophy.
Afterwards, the row deepened when officials claimed fans arrived late – but livid Liverpool supporters insisted they arrived on time and were locked outside the stadium for “over two hours”.
France’s Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin blamed Liverpool fans for the unrest that led to 68 arrests.
“Thousands of British “supporters”, without tickets or with counterfeit tickets, forced entry and sometimes assaulted the stewards,” he wrote on social media.
Liverpool said it was “hugely disappointed” at the stadium entry problems” and have demanded answers for the “unacceptable” site issues.
The club said: “This is the greatest match in European football and supporters should not have to experience the scenes we witnessed [on Saturday].
“We have officially requested a formal investigation into the causes of these unacceptable issues.”
Uefa said: “In the lead-up to the game, the turnstiles at the Liverpool end became blocked by thousands of fans who purchased fake tickets which did not work in the turnstiles. This created a buildup of fans trying to get in.
“As a result, kickoff was delayed by 35 minutes to allow as many fans as possible with genuine tickets to gain access. As numbers outside the stadium continued to build up after kickoff, the police dispersed them with tear gas and forced them away from the stadium.”
Uefa said it is “sympathetic” to those affected by these events and will “further review these matters urgently together with the French police and authorities, and with the French Football Federation”.
The final was set to be played in St Petersburg until the city was stripped of the game following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February.