The full horror endured by fans of Liverpool and Real Madrid at the Champions League in Paris last month was laid bare at the French Senate on Tuesday.
Ted Morris, the chair of the Liverpool Disabled Supporters’ Association and Joe Blott, the chair of The Spirit of Shankly, were supported in front of French parliamentarians by Real Madrid fans who also described “a completely horrendous experience” that left them with “what happened at Hillsborough in our heads”.
Morris, a wheelchair user who relies upon the assistance of his wife, said that disabled fans were treated like “animals” and detailed a catalogue of traumatic experiences that included:
A 14-year-old boy with the rare congenital disorder Williams syndrome being teargassed;
A blind man fearing for his life after being chasing by gangs and having bottles thrown at him;
A disabled woman who had attended the match with her elderly father being violently attacked and subjected to a “grotesque assault”;
Wheelchair users being teargassed and crowd-surfed to safety;
An eight-year-old autistic boy with dyspraxia being separated from his father and brother after being “crushed outside the gate”. They were late also teargassed;
A man with multiple sclerosis who has been left “severely unwell” after being teargassed several times for “no apparent reason”.
Morris also outlined anger at how the French interior minister, Gérald Darmanin, had initially suggested that the problems were caused by ticketless Liverpool fans. “In my opinion it was only due to the restraint and actions shown by Liverpool supporters that a major disaster and probably a fatality was averted,” said Morris.
“Disabled supporters arrived in Paris to see a festival of football. They were in the middle of a carnival of horrors, and it will leave them with long-term mental scars.
“They treated disabled supporters like animals. The treatment they received will be to the eternal shame of all those in authority who were there to protect us. It was a complete dereliction of duty.”
Calling on Darmanin to retract his statement, Morris added: If you don't have the decency to do that you must then do the honourable thing and resign. You sir have disgraced the French government and humiliated the good people of Paris.
“Unless the relevant authorities accept responsibility for their failings and learn from them, I believe the Rugby World Cup and the Olympic games should be relocated [from the Stade de France]. Failure to do this will put lives at risk.”
The Real Madrid fan Emilio Dumas also gave evidence, telling French senators that “he was terrified for myself and my friends”, adding, “I feel shame for France and its reputation around the world.”
Dumas said that he had never seen such a passive and inactive police approach as in the streets surrounding the stadium immediately after the match when numerous fans reported being mugged by local gangs.
“I do not understand the minister of the interior Gérald Darmanin's version of events at all,” he said.
Blott called for a “full independent and transparent investigation so the world can once more have confidence in the ability for France to hold global sporting events”.
Francois-Noel Buffet, who is the chairman of the French Law Commission, said that “we know that English football fans were not the cause of what happened at the Stade de France”.
In earlier evidence, Uefa had admitted that there “was a technical bug…caused by a faulty pen” which presented problems with filtering and verifying tickets.
Darmanin has claimed that sections of the Liverpool fans had posed “public order problems” and that between 30,000 and 40,000 extra fans had turned up to the match without proper tickets.
Darmanin did subsequently appear to recognise some errors were made by authorities. “I would like to express our regret with regard to the organisation of the final because some people were not able to see the whole of the match," he said. "I deplore the errors which took place before.” Uefa have dismissed the claim that there were more than 30,000 fake tickets but do still estimate that there were in excess of 2,600.