A terrifying throwback to the dark days of football

June, 03/2022 - 07:01

Camera footage clearly shows the heavy-handed tactics of the police, dressed like they were ready for a war, pepper-spraying supporters for no apparent reason.

 

Thousands of Liverpool fans were made to wait before being allowed into the stadium. AFP Photo

Paul Kennedy

It’s difficult to get away with mistakes these days. Hard to brush things under the carpet or pass the buck to deflect blame away from yourself.

As we are monitored virtually 24/7, any lapse of judgement, error or foolishness will probably be caught on camera. And even if you’re random act of madness isn’t picked up on CCTV, there’s a very good chance a passer-by will be on hand, camera phone at the ready.

Back in the late 80s and early 90s, it was far easier to cover your back, pass the blame on to someone else, and get away with virtually anything.

Today, not so much. The truth, one hopes, will always prevail.

Last week’s Champions League final in Paris should have been the showpiece event of European football. Two of the continent’s elite battling it out for the ultimate prize.

Instead, the headlines written after the match have all focussed on the appalling way supporters were treated before the game, and the total mismanagement of those who were supposed to be there to protect and serve.

In the past, some may well have shrugged this off, and claimed the fans got exactly what they deserved. In fact, some politicians in France have already tried to do this, blaming ticketless Liverpool FC supporters for causing the commotion in the first place.

However this time around, the actual evidence paints a far different story.

Camera footage clearly shows the heavy-handed tactics of the police, dressed like they were ready for a war, pepper-spraying supporters for no apparent reason.

And also what’s different this time around is that it wasn’t your average football fan on the receiving end.

Among those dressed in the red of Liverpool were corporate guests, journalists, celebrities, former players, and friends and family of the Liverpool team.

Liverpool City Region Mayor Steve Robinson and Member of Parliament Ian Byrne were also in the middle of the chaos.

A pal of Liverpool defender Andy Robertson was among those caught in the fracas, with stadium officials insisting the ticket he had, given to him by Robertson, was fake.  

France Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin said "massive, industrial-scale" ticket fraud had caused Liverpool fans to turn up en masse.

He also defended the police's actions, stating that "the decisions taken prevented deaths or serious injury".

However, the stories coming from others paint a far different picture of a lack of control by police and an over-the-top kneejerk reaction.

So far, one politician in France has gone some way to shouldering the blame.

Paris Deputy Mayor Richard Bouigue said in a letter to a Liverpool supporters' group: "The time for official denial is over, the time for apologies must be imposed.”

Liverpool FC are understandably furious and have officially requested a formal investigation into the events of the night.

The club is also asking fans involved to complete a feedback form so their experiences can be available should any inquiry take place in the future.

I hope beyond hope that happens, and happens quickly.

Football has moved forward at a mindboggling pace over the last 30 years, and for the better. It seems some in charge of policing these events on the continent have a lot of catching up to do. VNS

 

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