Champions: The Inside Story of the Shameful Chaos in Saint-Denis: “It’s the French, Not the English!” , champions league 2021


The organization placed Liverpool’s fan zone 45 minutes from the stadium and 20 minutes from Madrid. The access of the British became disorganized.

French police in front of Liverpool fans.
French police in front of Liverpool fans.Christophe AnnaAP

“It’s French, not English!” Liverpool fans shouted as the surroundings of the Champions League final, the quintessential match in world football, became petty battles. Saint-Denis, a poor neighborhood with much immigration, watched in awe as the Stade de France, the jewel in French football’s crown, experienced a guerrilla war. Riot control, pepper spray, people trying to sneak through bars, jumping over fences and running toward stadium stands.

A series of errors that started at UEFA itself. organization headed Ceferin Liverpool’s ‘fan zone’ is located in the city centre, west of the Champs-Elysées, 45 minutes by metro from Saint-Denis station. Meanwhile, the Real Madrid team held a preview in Legion of Honor, a park near the stadium, only a 20-minute walk away. The result was that at 7.30 pm, an hour and a half before the official time of the final, Real Madrid’s stands were full and Liverpool’s stands were half an innings away.

The footballers on the pitch did not understand anything. They warmed up as usual and went to the locker room from ten minutes to nine, but they heard from their locker how the duel had been postponed for 15 minutes. “Surprise in both locker rooms,” he admitted from inside the Stade de France. Outside, chaos. “I’ve bought my ticket and I can’t go in! Look at this! Look at this!” A Spanish fan asked with the Spanish flag on his shoulder: “No right, man, no right!” On his side, a man from Liverpool showed the cut resulting from a scuffle by the police, terrified by the situation. Security forces used pepper spray against fans holding tickets and those who did not. He didn’t mind amidst the uncertainty. The doors where the madness took over the environment were Z, X and Y, the latter with a significant funnel of ‘red’. In the other two, North African teenagers tried to take advantage of security guards’ moments of suspicion to flee to the stands. “I’m from Madrid. I love Madrid! I just want to see Madrid!” One of the detainees cried, who was chased by the police to the inner seats.

“I paid 2,000 euros!”

Gradually, the riot police began to control the situation and the game began at 21:36, 36 minutes later than planned, with Liverpool practically full. The only thing missing was half a thousand who were still standing at the door Y, where everything was in tears, anger and impotence. A few meters away, the police continued to charge with pepper spray against youths who did not have tickets and who tried to forcefully break open the doors. Guards tried to free the entrances to control who had tickets and who didn’t, but with the match starting and shouting heard in the background, this was impossible. The situation turned into chaos, with ticketed fans demanding to watch the duel (“I paid 2,000 euros!” said one), those who did not have tickets waited for the occasion and police followed and dispersed the public. – Decided to disperse.

An unspeakable chaos a year and a half before the 2024 Paris Olympic Games in which the 75,000-capacity Stade de France will host opening and closing ceremonies, athletics events and rugby tournaments. The problems of the Champions League are believed to help better prepare for the event, assuming that there is nothing, nothing, like football that creates excitement.

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