Liverpool fans fell victim to archaic football fan archetypes on a Paris Champions League night

Paul Connor asks why, in 2022, people are often seen and treated as animals the moment they put on a football shirt, in the wake of the events of Saturday night in Paris.

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Alas, the Reds come home without Ol’ Big Ears – but an amazing parade was enjoyed half-a-million spectators in Liverpool and many more than that from home as the FA Cup, League Cup and Women’s Championship titles were presented to the thousands lining the streets of Liverpool.

For those parade-goers who watched from Merseyside and beyond, it feels like a brilliant end to what should’ve been a grim weekend on the whole – but for the fans who were in Paris, it’s been nothing short of a debacle. It’s a tough one to write after what was supposed to be an unforgettable experience for travelling Kopites. When I should be writing about a damning Champions League final defeat and a frustrating team display, I’m instead typing down a review of the seemingly inhumane and animalistic conditions of which travelling Liverpudlians and Madrid fans experienced outside the Stade de France on Saturday night.

From The Anfield Wrap writer Josh Sexton’s claims of French youths stealing tickets from travelling Reds all the way up to 25,000 people being crammed into a one person exit zone, there are many different angles to start when it comes to Saturday’s events. The main point is that something was very, very wrong in Paris on Saturday night. Thankfully – I never thought I would say this about a Liverpool European final – I wasn’t there myself, but the abysmal scenes captured by relevant media outlets and subsequent attempts to apportion blame to the fans cannot be allowed to be unchecked.

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It started with an announcement on the stadium’s big screen that the match was to be put back 15 minutes, then another 15 again, due to the ‘late arrival of fans’ – which was, to be blunt, absolute rubbish. What was really happening was that football fans, both English and Spanish, were subject to some animal-like treatment – something that some authorities abroad seem to inflict too often.

The Kop always travels with an element of caution towards policing on the European mainland, that much is a given, but Saturday was different. From what they have reported back on social media, those from the Parisian police who were ‘controlling’ the outside of the Stade de France were no better than local gangs and youths patrolling the ground, proceeding to attack and mug fans as they fought for a way in themselves. Meanwhile, armed with pepper spray and tear gas, the videos documenting French police apparently attacking innocent fans remain a tough watch.

Liverpool lost the Champions League final, and this isn’t a fraction as important as what we’ve heard. Once again, we had a situation where some of the people who are meant to protect football fans were doing the direct opposite. What really got me though, was the claim that 25,000 Liverpudlians were shepherded into a space where only one fan could squeeze through to the concourse at a time, helped by four police vans blocking the rest of the exit.

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The authorities in France should should issue a whole-hearted apology to every fan that had a ticket to the final that night. 97 lives were once lost when a major football event was improperly organised and policed – judging by some of the footage which has emerged from outside the Stade de France, a similar environment looked to have formed, 33 years later. Fortunately, this time there were no fatal consequences.

Many people are out just to go and enjoy a football game and create memories – especially when they spent up to four figures on match tickets, travel and accommodation for an event like this. They definitely don’t go to be herded like cattle. Now, the focus is unearthing the whole picture of a scary night for too many fans – and how to move from a professedly pathetic demonstration on how to manage a football match. Will the Turkish authorities look at this and make sure that there are no repeats in Istanbul? Let’s hope so.

Will it ever change, or is this just the permanent depiction of football supporters that we will have to forever deal with?


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