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‘Kids were crying, they looked terrified’, Dublin Liverpool fan describes chaotic scenes at Champions League final in Paris

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Liverpool fans were teargassed as they queued to access Stade de France before the Champions League Final. Photo: Reuters/Fernando Kallas

Liverpool fans were teargassed as they queued to access Stade de France before the Champions League Final. Photo: Reuters/Fernando Kallas

Liverpool fans were teargassed as they queued to access Stade de France before the Champions League Final. Photo: Reuters/Fernando Kallas

A Dublin man caught up in last night’s melee before the Uefa Champions League final in Paris has described scenes of utter chaos and panic.

Conor Dillon, who travelled over to Paris to cheer on Liverpool against eventual winners Real Madrid, was among thousands of fans standing outside the Stade de France when French authorities used teargas on the crowds.

The game had to be delayed by 36 minutes due to dangerous congestion problems that resulted in large numbers of supporters being delayed around the stadium perimeter for up to three hours.

Mr Dillon told Independent.ie that what happened was “absolutely horrific” and it was only by pure luck that a worst disaster did not unfold.

“I was over there with my two brothers and we got to the grounds about an hour before kick-off and what happened was absolutely appalling. It was chaos at the first ticket check-point. There were thousands of people without tickets and they were blocking the access route,” he said.

“But when we got up to the actual stadium, which is surrounded by a three-meter-high fence, every turnstile was closed and locked. At that stage, there were thousands of people with tickets trying to get into the match.

“There were very few police and any police there looked terrified. They were responding badly to anything that was going on. The crowds were surging. We came across a very elderly couple trapped up against a fence and we ended up helping them to move to an area where the TV vans had set up, a fenced-off area. We got them in there to safety but the police didn’t help them at all.”

He said that separate to the ticket-holding fans, there were scores of local youngsters running around and causing chaos in the crowds and “just running riot”.

He said there were also lots of younger kids trapped in the melee who had travelled there with their parents.

“They just looked terrified. Kids were crying, they didn’t understand what was going on,” he said.

Stadium authorities then tried opening one of the turnstiles, which created a huge crowd surge and they closed it again before deciding to use teargas on the crowd in a heavy-handed approach.

“I didn't get a spray in the face but it kind of blew over the area. All the stewards were affected as well as the fans as it spread out across where we were. We did feel it, the stinging in our throats and our eyes. Everyone had their scarves and their t-shirts over their mouths,” he said.

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He said they eventually got into the stadium and found their seats just after kick-off. But he said throngs of fans just gave up and went home after deciding it was just too much to endure.

An avid soccer fan, Mr Dillon said he has been to Ireland and Liverpool matches all over the world and he has never experienced anything like this. Having forked out hundreds of euros to travel over to see the game, he said it was “totally marred” by the chaos outside the stadium.

“Uefa has a lot to answer for, in my opinion. It was an absolute disgrace. The price they charged for the tickets was very high but we were happy to pay it, to get the chance to go and see the game.

“I've never experienced anything like this. It was quite scary. It was like ‘should we just get out of here?’ We have all read the stories of the tragedies that have happened in the past and these things happen in the blink of an eye. You don’t think it’s going to happen and then it's out of control. It was so worrying.”

Alluding to the 1989 Hillsborough disaster, which saw nearly 100 Liverpool fans lose their lives in a crowd crush in Sheffield, he said he saw some exemplary behaviour from those in attendance.

“Liverpool obviously have a history with some crowd tragedies and the Liverpool fans were very aware of that and the fans were amazing,” he said.

“Any time there was someone in trouble, they all stepped back or if there was a question of a crush, a shout would go up to step back and thousands of people would just step back. it was actually quite impressive but it never should have happened in the first place.”

He pointed the finger of blame squarely at the Uefa for failing to organise a proper security and policing plan to deal with the huge numbers of fans and for allowing such chaos to unfold.


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