Liverpool CEO laments 'disgraceful' comments from French minister

·4-min read

Liverpool chief executive Billy Hogan has called comments from a French minister relating to the chaos at Saturday's Champions League final "disgraceful".

French interior minister Gerald Darmanin and sports minister Amelie Oudea-Castera have repeatedly insisted that Liverpool fans were to blame for troubles outside the Stade de France that led to kick-off being delayed by 36 minutes as thousands of fans struggled to enter the stadium, with widely circulated social media footage showing supporters, including young children, being targeted with tear gas by police and placed at risk of a crush.

Speaking to the French Senate on Wednesday, Darmanin doubled down on his accusations, saying "It is clear, all the security services notes say so, that the people of Liverpool pose public order problems. Not all its supporters, but a small part of its supporters."

Both ministers claim fans with fake tickets and without tickets caused the problems, suggesting 30,000 to 40,000 Liverpool fans were trying to gain access to the stadium without a valid ticket, claims which have been strongly denied by fan groups and Merseyside Police.

Liverpool chairman Tom Werner demanded an apology from Oudea-Castera for her prior comments, which he labelled as "irresponsible, unprofessional, and wholly disrespectful".

UEFA announced an independent report into the events but, speaking to Liverpool's website, Hogan says a report is not enough and wants an investigation into what took place.

"My response to the French minister's comments again, as I said earlier in the week, is just one of disbelief frankly," he said.

"Folks are probably aware that the Senate Committee meeting yesterday was three hours, so there's still quite a bit for us to unpack in all of it. But, overall, given the body of evidence through video, photographs, personal experiences – and this is not just from Liverpool fans but from all fans that attended the match; media; English politicians; folks who travelled from literally all corners of the world to be at this match – which people have seen now across social media and other media channels, it's just utter disbelief.

"In regard to the accusations again that the numbers – 30 to 40 thousand fans – turning up at the stadium, this is the reason why we just keep asking for an open and transparent investigation into the details.

"I said this earlier in the week, people are talking about details which haven't been shared. We haven't had the opportunity to have that open investigation. And I just don't think it's appropriate for people to be making accusations until we've got all the facts.

"And with regard to the fact that this is only Liverpool fans, I spoke to my counterpart at Real Madrid yesterday, who made it clear that their fans also had issues. They had major concerns with the matchday operation, including the policing operation around the match.

"We spoke for a while about this yesterday, I know they're equally concerned about making sure this, again, is an independent and open investigation. My understanding is that Real Madrid are going to be putting some details out across their channels about this as well.

"We at Liverpool have been calling for an investigation into what happened in Paris on Saturday, not a report. I think those are two very different things. We've written to UEFA again today and we've raised specific questions – 13 specific questions – that we'd like them to clarify around the details of this investigation.

"We need clarity around what those points we are asking, the questions we've asked, to fully understand the proposed process. We just feel it's incredibly important that we get this investigation going, frankly that we get it launched immediately and that there are clear specifics around the process and how it’s going to work."

Hogan further expressed his disbelief at Darmanin's comments to the Senate Committee, calling them "disgraceful".

"I really empathise with our fans," he added. "Nobody should go through what they have gone through on Saturday.

"I mentioned this earlier in the week – both accessing the stadium as well as leaving the stadium, it was an absolute disgrace. The pain, the grief, the harm, the hurt that they suffered on Saturday, and now to be told by a French minister that only Liverpool fans have been a problem, it's just disgraceful.

"Real Madrid have made it clear their fans suffered as well. So all I can say is I have a tremendous amount of empathy for our fans, I don't think it's fair what's being said and we're just in disbelief."

Hogan also detailed the information the club has been able to gather in recent days, making a form available for those who attended to fill in and detail their experiences in Paris.

"We have opened up the form and I just want to say a huge and heartfelt thank you to everyone who has contributed their experiences," he continued.

"We now have over 6,500 individuals who have gone through the pain of reliving that experience and putting it down in writing, as well as quite a number of photographs that have been submitted as well.

"Again, thank you to those of you who have taken the time to do that, I know it hasn't been easy."

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