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Champions League

UEFA delay Champions League final kickoff due to “nightmare” for fans outside ground


Liverpool fans complained of a “nightmare” attempting to enter the Stade de France and UEFA were forced to delay kick-off of the Champions League final against Real Madrid as a result

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All you need to know about the Stade de France

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The Champions League final kick-off was delayed by more than half an hour as a result of chaos outside the Stade de France which saw tear gas and pepper spray used on Liverpool fans.

The stadium announcer confirmed at 8.46pm local time – 14 minutes before kick-off – that the start of the game had been delayed. It was later confirmed the match would kick-off at a revised time of 9:30pm local time, 8:30pm in the UK, but that was later pushed back by a further six minutes until 8:36pm BST at which time the game eventually resumed.

Numerous Liverpool fans were caught in queues attempting to enter the stadium and branded the situation a “nightmare”. A message on big screens around the stadium read: “Due to a security issue the match has been delayed. Further information will follow in 15 minutes”.

Liverpool players re-emerged to warm-up at 9.06pm local time – six minutes after the scheduled kick-off. Real Madrid players began to follow shortly after. UEFA said the delay was due to “security reasons” but the Stade de France screens and announcer claimed it was “due to the late arrival of fans”.

A lack of organisation meant there were shambolic scenes outside the stadium, which was a late replacement to host the game after Saint Petersburg was stripped of hosting the game. Long queues formed and the Liverpool end was noticeably patchy less than half an hour before kick-off as supporters struggled to get in.

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Gary Lineker, himself caught up in chaos outside, branded an announcement attributing blame to fans as “utter b*******”. He wrote on Twitter : “They’ve just announced another 15 minute delay “because of the late arrival of fans”. Utter b*******.”

A few ticketless fans were seen trying to gain access to the Stade de France, despite a permanent fence being in place around the perimeter. Shortly after the delay, BT Sport confirmed that tear gas had been used outside the stadium to deal with the situation. Even after the game had kicked off, fresh rounds of tear gas were deployed by riot police as the Stade de France was locked down with all entrance and exit points closed.

Tear gas was used on Liverpool fans outside the stadium
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Image:

Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)

“It is so sad and obviously everything has to be military precision out there,” said Michael Owen. “We don’t know what’s gone on, but it is sad to hear.”

“We pray for people’s safety,” said Rio Ferdinand. “You come to football to be entertained.”

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Speaking to AP while queuing up outside the ground, a fan said: “It’s absolutely horrendous. There’s a bottleneck down there and there’s literally a six-foot gap for maybe 20,000 Liverpool fans to get in.

“We are absolutely being pushed from pillar to post. I have an 82-year-old father in law here. And it’s just madness. I’m really sorry but there are just thousands behind us.”

Huge queues formed outside the Stade de France before the game as kick-off was delayed
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Image:

PA)

“Nightmare… horrendous queues just to get to first check, all the fans won’t get in at this rate,” one Liverpool fan told The Times. Another supporter tweeted: “Sort it out guys, people not getting in quick enough. Long long queues and less than an hour till kick-off. Look at the ‘Pool side of the stadium it’s empty because they’re all outside!!!”

A BBC journalist attending the game in a personal capacity, Nick Parrott, was caught up and pepper sprayed, telling BBC Radio 5 Live: “I have just been pepper sprayed for the first time in my life. I have been to the Champions League final before and I have never been pepper sprayed before.

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“I was outside Gate Y which has been opening and closing repeatedly over the last hour and a half but nobody has been going through. The security staff on the other side advanced and sprayed pepper spray.

Fans covered their mouths and noses after the use of tear gas and pepper spray
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Image:

Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)

“I have seen 10 fans trying to climb over fences. Gate Z is open but there does not seem to be any movement going in. I have never seen this sort of chaos at any match I have been to in a personal capacity.

“The Liverpool fans are trying to move themselves back from these gates to try and get in but the authorities seem to be doing nothing. I came to get into the stadium at seven o’clock.

“I got through the outer perimeter where there is crushing. I came round in good time and it was quite clear that we were not going to get in before nine o’clock.”

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Lauren Dalglish, daughter of Liverpool legend Kenny Dalglish, stated she felt “physically sick” at events that unfolded. She tweeted: “I feel physically sick. Arriving over 2 hours before KO you could see fans being funnelled into dangerous areas by police who didn’t have a clue. They weren’t late and they weren’t causing trouble. Just really really hope everyone is OK!”

Fans were caught in huge queues and unable to gain entry to the stadium
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Image:

Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)

Alan Shearer slammed UEFA’s response on BBC Radio 5 Live and also outlined the potential impact on players as kick-off was delayed.

“This is such a shame,” Shearer said. “There are so many empty seats in that Liverpool section. Everyone has worked so hard to get here. For everyone with tickets to make it to the stadium and not be allowed in through no fault of their own is an absolute disgrace.

“We have to hope that everyone outside is OK. For the players their preparation is meticulous to the minute. They have warmed up and their day has been designed for kick-off at a certain time.

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“Now they are back in the dressing room, they don’t know how long they have to sit around for or stretch for. The delay is no good for the players either. They might have to come out and do another warm-up.”

The game eventually kicked off 36 minutes behind schedule
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Image:

Marc Atkins/Getty Images)

There was drama for Liverpool in a footballing sense ahead of the big game after Thiago Alcantara appeared to suffer an injury in the warm-up. The midfielder, who was a doubt in the run-up to the game, was seen walking into the tunnel alone as Naby Keita moved into the starting XI group.

However, Thiago returned and, after spending some time warming up alone, had long chats with Jurgen Klopp and Keita and appeared to confirm he was fit to start.

Gerrard claimed that situation could make the delay beneficial for his former side, stating: “It looks like Liverpool have had a situation in the warm-up as well so it might be beneficial to have an extra 15 minutes. It’s not ideal but you have got to get on with it.”

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