PARIS: Police deployed tear gas on supporters waiting in long lines to get into the Stade de France and security struggled with fans desperate to see the Champions League final that was delayed by 37 minutes on Saturday.
Media reports said the process of organizing the fans’ entry was disrupted due to fake tickets that were alleged to have been sold through pirated online portals.
European football governing body UEFA then blamed “fake tickets which did not work in the turnstiles” for a delay.
UEFA said French police had fired tear gas to disperse thousands of frustrated fans who were building up outside the Stade de France as a result of the fake tickets issue.
But English giants Liverpool said they were “hugely disappointed” that their supporters had been subjected to an “unacceptable” breakdown of the security perimeter at France’s national stadium.
Angry Liverpool fans held in the lines were seen hanging onto railings and heard shouting: “Let us in. We’ve got tickets.”
There were many instances of fans breaking through security and attempting to get into the stadium. The Associated Press saw two fans — one was wearing Liverpool attire — wrestled to the ground by stewards and bundled out of the gates.
Three more fans were seen evading stewards and sprinting through the concourse and into the bottom level of the stadium. Others climbed the fences instead.
Supporter Colm Lacey saw “children crying, people trapped” outside the entrances.
“People started jumping the queue, then they ripped the gate open and then there was a push,” Lacey said.
Police officers with batons and riot shields ran from gate to gate to prevent pockets of fans forcing their way into the stadium without showing tickets. One policeman collapsed to the ground and had to be helped by other officers. Officers used tear gas on Liverpool fans on repeated occasions.
Correspondents from the BeIN sports channel reported acts of hooliganism outside the stadium.
One Liverpool fan kissed his ticket and looked to the sky after finally getting through security.
The scenes were reminiscent of the chaos outside Wembley Stadium before the European Championship final last year between England and Italy.
There were long lines of Liverpool fans still outside the stadium when there was 40 minutes to kickoff.
Then, about 15 minutes before the scheduled kickoff of 9 p.m. local time (1900 GMT), an announcement was made that there would be a delay, blaming the late arrival of fans to the stadium. It was greeted by jeers inside the stadium, given those fans had already endured long queues.
The game eventually started at 9.37 p.m. local time.
(With AP and AFP)