By Tony Attwood
One of the great benefits that the French football authorities have in putting forward their notion that 70% of the tickets presented at the Champions League final was fake, is the awareness that English journalists are well, to put it bluntly, not very clever and mostly mathematically illiterate.
If 70 percent of the tickets were fake then, given a day or two, you might have thought that even an English football could work out that this meant that 30 per cent of the tickets were actually real.
Now we know that there are 80,000 seats in the stadium and so that (in the 70 percent fake scenario would represent 30 per cent of those present.) If these were spread around the stadium that would give us 266,666 people on site. 80,000 will real tickets and around 186,000 fake tickets.
But the prefecture which is handling the investigation has said that the number of fake tickets was only 30,000 to 40,000.
Now prior to the game the Daily Mail said “‘The atmosphere here is boss, the city is red’: 50,000 Liverpool fans descend on Paris ahead of Champions League final against Real Madrid, with many travelling to the French capital without a ticket just to soak up the atmosphere”
The Mail continued and remember this was published long before people started heading for the stadium, “As many as 50,000 supporters, largely ticketless, began gathering early during the day, some starting the drinking from 7am, bringing traffic in the area to a standstill as roads were closed off.”
Now that was published on the afternoon of the day before the game, so before we saw any incidents.
Of course it could have been a guess by the Mail, which was then taken up by the French authorities as the truth, in which case it was a bit naughty of the Mail printing a guess as a fact. Or it could have been that their estimate of 50,000 ticketless fans in Paris was right.
Either way that number lived on in the narrative of an article that spends a lot of time talking about the level of drunkenness in the city, which itself might explain a) why the ticketless fans were stupid enough to believe there were real tickets on sale, and b) why so many of them tried to enter to ground.
Now the rest of the English media deny this whole scenario by ignoring the Mail’s story about how many Liverpool supporters there were in the area with a reporter saying, “Not a single Liverpool fan came up to me and said they had been sold a fake ticket.” But then, would they?
On the other hand the radio station Europe 1, said that the national division of fight against hooliganism DNLH had warned in advance (which is to say long before the game) about the risks that presented this final, including the presence of “50,000 fans without tickets” in the French capital.
But what the media in England generally isn’t getting into is the fact that some Liverpool fans, like the rest of us will have noted that people gained access to the Euro final at Wembley by forcing the turnstiles and various access doors through sheer weight of numbers. That disaster of a game organised by the FA was seen as a triumph for ticketless fans and the matter was noted by everyone organising a match in which a team from England plays overseas and supporters.
There is no doubt that in Paris the police and the ground authorities were completely overwhelmed by the situation. Exactly as happened at Wembley. This means that no one has yet learned a lesson concerning what can happen on big footballing occasions.
None of this is simply to blame Liverpool fans for going to Paris. They are perfectly free to go to Paris if they like. But seeing what happened at Wembley for the Euro final the French authorities could have organised things much better – and if the ground selected for the final was not suitable for defending itself against the sort of onslaught that Wembley had, then they ought to have either chosen another ground, or, on hearing there was to be an English team in the final, declined the invitation and taken a fine from Uefa.
That last action might have gained them a lot of bad publicity but it would have shown the rest of football that it is possible to say “no” – we really don’t want to face that kind of situation here.
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