British and French sports ministers to meet over Champions League chaos | Soccer
Britain’s sports minister is due to meet his French counterpart this week to discuss the chaos at the Stade de France, after an MP described the scenes in Paris as ‘the most hostile environment’ they had seen during a athletic event.
Nigel Huddleston said he could meet Amélie Oudéa-Castéra as early as Tuesday to raise issues surrounding the events which led to thousands of Liverpool supporters being pushed around for hours and individuals assaulted, robbed and beaten with tear gas before the Champions League final.
“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,” Huddleston told the House of Commons. “I welcome the fact that UEFA has 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 discuss this with her later this week.
Huddleston said he would raise “many points” with Oudéa-Castéra, who has come under intense criticism from abroad and at home after alleging a “mass gathering” of Liverpool fans with of “counterfeit tickets” had been responsible for the heavy-handed behavior of police and stadium officials.
“The immediate response from some people was unfortunate,” Huddleston told fellow MPs. “There seemed to be a bit of a knee-jerk reaction that wasn’t necessarily based on the facts. Of course, what we’ve all seen is what appears to be vastly disproportionate behavior on the part of certain people and entities from whom we would expect more.
The Sports Minister was responding to an urgent question posed by Ian Byrne, the Labor MP for the Liverpool suburb of West Derby. Byrne, a Liverpool fan and Hillsborough survivor, recounted his experience at St Denis ahead of the final and called for action to prevent it from happening again.
“I was there last Saturday in Paris, I was there in Hillsborough in 1989 as well,” Byrne said. “I can say, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that but 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 chaotic stadium management and the most hostile police environment at a sporting event I have ever seen. I saw children being sprayed with gas peppered, pensioners getting gassed, and turnstiles and exits closing while thousands lined up for hours to witness the season’s blue ribbon football occasion We were treated like animals for wanting to watch a football game.
“Then, shamefully, the slanders and lies, straight from the Hillsborough playbook, were used by the authorities to avoid accountability for the horrific events. This should never again be tolerated, in this country or anywhere in the world. Enough is enough.”