Liverpool defender Andy Robertson has accused UEFA and the French authorities of “making things up and panicking” after serious crowd congestion at the Champions League final saw fans locked out and sprayed with tear gas.
Kick-off was delayed by 36 minutes – not nearly enough time to accommodate the thousands of supporters stuck outside the Stade de France after being corralled into a horrendous logjam – and some police officers appeared to adopt an aggressive approach in dealing with a peaceful crowd frustrated at being penned in for two to three hours.
A stadium announcement said the delay was due to the late arrival of fans – a claim dismissed by furious Liverpool officials – but a later UEFA statement said people without tickets and counterfeits had caused the issue.
However, problems had developed long before that, with all 20,000 of Liverpool’s ticket holders directed into an underpass purposefully partially-blocked by police vehicles and then funnelled into a small area serviced by just two gates.
Robertson, like many players, had family and friends caught up in the mayhem and, while the squad were oblivious to the issues before the game, they were made aware of them at the final whistle.
“You come in after the game, go on your phone and you have seen everyone struggle to get in, the French police being pretty heavy-handed,” he said.
“People who have got legitimate tickets were being told they are fake tickets, which happened to one of my mates and I can assure you it wasn’t a fake ticket. They have just panicked.
“He luckily managed to get in because one of the club representatives sorted it, but they said it was a fake ticket, so I think they were making it up at times and panicked.
“For me it shouldn’t really happen, UEFA should have been better organised.
“Luckily everyone is fine and I don’t know whether any fans got hurt, but fingers crossed everybody is OK.
“I am sure there is more of a panic for the fans who are actually involved in it.
“It is never nice, especially when you are in a foreign country, you don’t know the lay of the land, it makes it a wee bit harder.”
The issues for the players – the stop-start nature of pre-match and having to do two warm-ups – pales into insignificance to what fans, many of whom did not get inside until half-time, were experiencing.
But Robertson admits it did make preparations more difficult.
“It is not ideal when you are playing the biggest game of your season,” he explained.
“Then you have to press the reset button, get ready again. We obviously went back in, warmed up.
“For me, in the biggest game in world football, these situations shouldn’t be happening and unfortunately UEFA have messed up.”