The Liverpool ticket affair: the warnings before and Europe’s reaction after

By Tony Attwood

You will undoubtedly recall that the Heysel Stadium Disaster in 1985 involved Liverpool fans at a match in Europe, and what happened subsequently was to a degree a result of how the terrible events of that evening played out in the European media over the coming days.

I make that point not to suggest that what happened at Heysel is related in size, form, or origination to the events in Paris at this year’s final, but to suggest that it is worth keeping an eye on what the European media is saying, because it could influence what Uefa do.

This is Anfield is presenting the argument that “French authorities have, unsurprisingly, looked to lay the blame on Liverpool fans and claimed “between 30,000 and 40,000” supporters had fake tickets or none whatsoever and that caused the chaos.

“It’s a ridiculous claim that can be easily debunked, as that number of people who had to have seen turnstiles process around 5,555 tickets – genuine or fake – per hour.”

I’m not quite sure of what that statement means, but it is clear the website doesn’t like the French argument.  But meanwhile the authorities in France, whose responses are being reported fully in Europe, but only occasionally in England, are stating that one ticket was reproduced multiple times and sold to Liverpool fans who bought the fake reproduction.

They state that one ticket was presented 760 times at one gate, and another 540 times which obviously greatly increased the congestion.

This is the first time we have had any details of how the process of fake tickets worked – someone bought two tickets, reproduced them using digital equipment, and sold them to the large number of ticketless Liverpool fans.   Which seems possible, given that many of those buying, may well have been drunk.

But also, just as Wembley was not prepared for people without tickets forcing their way into the stadium for the Euro final, so Stade de France was not prepared for people with fake tickets turning up.   Those people with fake tickets were then stuck at the front of the queue trying to get access and not being able to do so, and seemingly then not moving away and accepting that each had been made a fool of by the forgers.

This issue of 1300 people with fake tickets turning up at one gate doesn’t take us up to the 35,000 who allegedly tried to get in, but if there were (as the photos from the day seem to show) a lot of people who had turned up in Paris for the match without a ticket, some may well have tried the tactic that worked so successfully at Wembley of simply charging the gate and breaking through.

It is unfortunate that the protestations from This is Anfield don’t deal with the issue in more detail, instead of reverting to the “fake news” response.   There may be a lot of fake news circulating but in order to get to the truth, an examination of the details is needed.  It would be good to see a more comprehensive reasoned piece from them about what happened.

Meanwhile, in France, this is turning into a full-blown political issue, with everyone blaming Macron and his new government – not the sort of response that we ever find in England where the media instantly turn on “drunken fans” rather than ever blame Wembley or the FA, or the government that allows the FA to continue running English football is such a disastrous manner.

Interestingly, the French media are currently stating that the 2,700 fans that could not see the game but had a valid ticket will be reimbursed by Uefa.  

However there is another issue that is being reported as fact across Europe and that is that the French authorities wanted to issue electronic tickets to Liverpool fans, but the club refused to accept them and demanded that paper tickets be issued.  So far no one seems to be explaining why, although there is a suggestion this was a question of Liverpool FC not wanting to pay the cost of digital tickets.

There is also another salient point that is being pushed aside somewhat.  On 24 May the Liverpool Echo ran the headline “Liverpool fans warned over ticket scam ahead of Champions League final”, just one of a number of English publications to take up that story prior to the match.

Thus about a week before the game Merseyside Police were warning fans to beware of touted tickets which could well be fakes.  Liverpool FC then put out an official statement saying, “Liverpool Football Club has called on social media companies to close more than 50 social media accounts and groups it believes are actively involved in selling, or offering to sell, Champions League final tickets online.”

So it is increasingly looking as if it was widely known that there would be a problem.  The only people who seemed to be wholly unaware of any of this was the BT Sprout team covering the match, who didn’t seem to have a clue about anything.  And not for the first time.

10 Replies to “The Liverpool ticket affair: the warnings before and Europe’s reaction after”

  1. Tony what a load of anti-Liverpool bilge! if you are going to question fan accounts , at least keep it balanced.
    fact Eufa gave 27000 tickets to the UEFA family, the vast majority of these ticket appeared weeks ago on ticketing websites priced between £2ooo and £5000 and were bought by Liverpool fans
    Fact My 2 mates paid £2400 each for official UEFA tickets from a ticketing site on the day; these required them to download the official UEFA Ticket App and the downloaded tickets were ‘validated’ (successfully) at the gates. unlike your stereo typical Engeeerlaaand ‘drunken moron’ description of these fans, as per the Wembley Euro Final fiasco, these die hard fans were totally sober if of questionable judgement!
    fact: the mobile phone technology at Anfield has been fraught with software problems, causing frequent delays at the gates at most home games
    Fact: some 20-30,000 fans without tickets went to the official ‘fan park’ near Nation Metro; although this did not open at 1200hrs as planned; the vast majority stayed for a live screening of the game on a big screen (which kept them out of bars as there were very few pub/bar venues screening the game) ; however, incompetent and heavy handed policing and entry supervision caused problems and delays here as well
    fact: I met fans with official tickets who were assaulted by PSG fan mobs, many using pepper sprays and some armed with baseball bats and knives; tickets, wallets and phones were stolen
    Fact: Madrid fans were also attacked, and most of their cars parked behind their end of the ground were vandalised; Stewards who tried to help were pepper sprayed by the mob
    fact: at 6pm thousands of fans with official tickets were held for over an hour in a crowded underpass, no toilets or water, and only as the stewards sought to relieve congestion did some ( at the suggestion of Stewards) climb over outer gates to get to the turnstiles
    Fact: Turnstile block Z was closed from 6pm until well after 7 pm, creating a massive backlog of genuine fans , but they remained calm (remembering Hillsborough) in spite of massive police intimidation and pepper spraying
    fact Andy Robertson gave a family friend one of his official club allocation of tickets which was declared a ‘fake’ at the pre-Turnstile check; Joel Matip’s family were denied access for the same reason, but left because of the behaviour of Police.
    As my ticket was checked my small bottle of water was confiscated; although listed as permitted on the Stade de France website; but i wasnt going toargue and risk arrest or pepper spray
    As the final whistle approached the Riot Police appeared in huge numbers at the Liverpool end, to ‘prevent a pitch invasion’ The collapsible fencing had been in place since before the crowd was admitted around 5pm; but none at the Madrid end. The Interior Minister said a pitch invasion was anticipated because of the behaviour of (Arsenal? Spurs? Chelsea?) fans at Wembley in 2021, but you may have noticed that Liverpool played 2 finals there this year with no problems!
    fact i left the ground minutes after the final whistle to ensure i could meet my group before heading to the Metro, I witnessed a mob of about 200 PSG fans storm a police line in the underpass below the exit ramp; to get at Liverpool fans; I spoke to several riot police to alert them to what was going on but they refused to move or go tio the aid of their colleagues.
    Fact I witnessed a lone PSG thug attack several Red fans as they were walking to the Metro, he appeared drugged to the eye balls and was eventually laid out by one individual he had attacked. Several Reds escorted him to first aid.
    All told , a horrible experience and I will never attend another LFC game in France.
    If this account doesn’t suit you biased narrative then more fool you; you are unlikely to experience it first hand given the state of your own squad! Allez les Rouges

  2. I just find it totally fascinating that one of the rich clubs of the PL argues cost of electronic tickets to get paper versions.

    If Arsenal had done this, can you imagine the uproar ? Remember during Covid how their their cost savings initiatives were derided and criticised…but we rarely heard about other clubs ?
    Just shows how the media have darlings and don’t do the job of asking the tough or even any question(s). Just PR guys parading as journalists.

  3. Nev Smith you can of course write your comments in any way that you wish, and unless they get rather insulting I’ll publish them, but the fact (and I use the word advisably here) is that if you simply say things like “fact Eufa gave 27000 tickets to the UEFA family, the vast majority of these ticket appeared weeks ago on ticketing websites priced between £2ooo and £5000 and were bought by Liverpool fans” and don’t provide any supporting evidence then it probably isn’t going to do much to support your case, and will quite possibly do a lot to diminish it.

  4. sorry but this notion that Liverpool fans are blameless is laughable and hypocrites to the extreme. like i mention before, every sides shoulder the blame in this incident and seem like every English media and footy sites busy defending Liverpool fans. like Richard Keys said, fuck me’ some people seem to think they’re expert on anything, especially the one who comfortably blaming others even for their own gaffe and blunder

  5. @Nev Smith,

    I fully believe what you have seen and I don’t think Tony implies that all fans are at fault. Visibly quite a few of them were victims of fake tickets and of thugs around the stadium.

    The whole point is that again the press is not at all talking about the real issues :

    – why were paper tickets printed which created havoc and opened the door to large scale forgeries, created bottlenecks at the turnstyles and all sorts of problems from there on.
    – why are we hearing about only Liverpool supporters being mollested when from you account Real supporters did not have a quiet evening ?
    – why is no one questionning the way UEFA and Liverpool just totally mismanaged the issue ?

    Liverpool and to an extent english fans have a very poor reputation accross all of Europe. Heysel was one reason and a dark stain that will always be here. But look no farther then any Euro or WC and the day eglish fans come to town, havoc ensues. Yes they are not the only ones, but by large they are coming in numbers and one wonders if it is to get drunk or watch a game. Again, others do the same, but the reputation sticks. That said, in Switzerland pretty much each week-end a train ges damaged by fans returning from games.

    In France the issue has turned political, inquiries have been started and results will come out. In England, have you ever read conclusions about last summer in Wembley ? Bout the Aston Vila keeper getting hit at the end of the last game against City ? Not much.

    So at least a conversation is happening, alas outside of England where all we hear is that Liverpool supporters were hard done by and no questions about why….because the so-called press does not give a damn about supporters but uses every possible angle to sell its crap.

  6. Bushido , why mention Richard Keys to back up your argument, you know he is hasn`t a good word to say for anything LFC , so that just makes you look like him. NO ONE has ever said ALL LFC fans are blameless but its a LOT less than HE and YOU would have us believe !!

  7. @Ken08 no need to cap lock. what are you some 12 y’old brat using mommy phone, so obnoxious and childish. it’s a bit rich when you said no one has ever said all LFC fans are blameless but all i see is all the English media and footy articles defending ‘pool fans while shove the blame to others and never once presented both side of argument. always from the holier than thou LFC fans POV and argument while the other side argument are quick to dismiss as bullshit. stop all this offended by everything, ashamed of nothing attitude. always play the victim card and quick to remembering Hillsborough but conveniently forgetting Heysel. take your hypocrite view and lame’ass excuse then shove it down your piehole. i don’t like to be mean to others but i hate and can’t stand know-it-all and think they always right hypocrite

  8. @Ken08,

    As many before on the website you are not really taking into account what Tony is adressing
    The issue is not fans like Mr Smith, Ms Brown or their kids, or you and me.

    The issue is two pronged :

    a) the way clubs in general consider supporters with little respect and often treat them like crap, with all possible comtempt (just think of changing game times)
    b) the way the press (or the extended PR departments of sport moguls) , used to permanent censure and pressure from FA7PL/PGMOL is totally inept in reporting on facts

    Do you remember the remark that was quoted so often about Mr Wenger ? What are they smoking at the Emirates ? And all of England was laughing at Arsenal being ridiculous ?
    Well, NO (gutter)press outlet made its research and in the end it came out that there really was a clause of 40 millions + 1 in the LFC contract with Suarez. No they just sided with the liars and once the truth was out, not one of them came back and admitted they have been taken for a ride and made to look like what they are : nothin like journalists, everything like parroting the PR crap of the sports moguls.

    So when you look at what happened, all the (gutter)press is doing is rounding the chariots around poor miserable LFC to defend them even where they are not defendable. Again, Tony is not criticising supporters but the rich and mighty who don’t give a rat’s ass about their supporters, as long as their money keeps coming in.

    And to a larger extent, supporters just don’t get the fact that they have all the power in their hands. Imagine they’d decide not to go to the first game of the season to protest…. and keep the strike going until things change ?

    So one comment said here : I won’t go again to a LFC game in France. Ok. Makes sense. Why don’t you all decide not to goto a home game to protest the little support your club gave you in Paris ? Sorry mate, I just don’t get it.

  9. “Let’s rewind Darmanin’s lies”:’info
    is not perfect, its conclusion in particular, but it is the most accurate account I’ve watched about what happened in Paris last Saturday (it came out a few days ago on the “Blast” youtube channel). “Blast” is one of the very few independent French media left (along with “Le Média”, “Arrêt sur Images”, “Elucid”, “Mediapart”, “QG”, “Thinkerview” … all of them to be found on the web) – on the other hand French mainstream media make you feel now like you’re watching “West North-Korean” TV.
    You can play it with the French subtitles, here’s my “kiss-me-quick” translation – so “forgive me my misakes, for I myself …”):
    (starts at 01’00”)
    (Antoine Etcheto): The main difficulty which gave – which everything else sprang from, which triggered the domino effect – is that something was wrong about the way the public was channeled, about the way people were supposed to move along the access roads had been planned, that is to say something which is under the direct responsibility of the Paris Prefect
    The Liverpool fans, who did exactly what they had been told to do – they left the center of Paris very early, they left the Nation square between 5 and 5.30 p.m (those of them who were at the “Nation” fan zone). When they turned up at the RER “D” station, they should have been told to change direction, to be headed to what is the road from RER “B” to the Stade de France, the Stade de France Avenue – but they were never told to do so. They ended up on a road at the end of which a very limited ticket check point had been set up. There were only four corridors, for thousands and thousands of fans. Four corridors, along which tickets were checked and fans were searched. The ticket check point goes bust as it was bound to, some “ticketless” people make their way in, which triggers the domino effect ending up the way we know it did.
    That situation, up there on the access ramp to the Stade de France, along the A86 highway, was undoubtedly the most dangerous one. As for us, when we turned up there around 6.45 – 7 p.m., along with my colleagues, what we saw scared us shitless. This was not about us – we were safe where we stood – but there was an overly packed-up crowd in a tiny space, they were stuck between A86 and police vehicles, under a bridge, there were people waiting in the sun, far from any access to water, toilets, … and this was a motley crowd, there were families, elderly people, disabled people; at this point the risk was huge. If they hadn’t been Liverpool fans who, because the 80’s catastrophes still live on in their collective memory, know all about the dangers threatening a crowd being trapped like this … Had it not been for this self-management of the situation, the fact that people were calming one another down, took things into their own hands because the authorities were failing them, we might have ended up with something much more dangerous. Had an uncontrolled wave built in the middle of that crowd, I think the situation would have become catastrophic. As they came out of this bottle neck, people who had been pressed upon one another, some of them could hardly breathe, some were in the middle of a panic attack, some had been exhausted by the crowd surrounding them – the first thing they were talking about was Hillsborough. Some had been there, some had lost relatives there, and anyway, this is again the collective memory of the Liverpool fans as a social group, who know about such dangers.
    The problem with the way the government dealt with the Liverpool fans, is that from the early briefings about the game – as we could see in the way the government communicated in the media, in the days and weeks before the game – the Liverpool fans were pictured as a threat, them and only them, even though Real Madrid have problems of their own. But the picture of the Liverpool fans was drawn along the lines of the sketch of what some of them were 35 or 40 years ago, of their hooliganism, their antisocial behavior, of mass migration of crowds who could actually cause problems; but this is the image which has lived on and determined the actions of the authorities, so that accounts for the fact that the Paris Police Prefect services were focused on displaying their force, with that statement, you know the usual lofty 6800-policemen one. Having 6800 policemen and military police may be fine, but that’s not the point, the point is what they are told to do, what their actual use is. As for me, what surprised me most was the number of riot squad trucks parked around the Stade de France, for everyone to see them, that is to say along the access roads, or by the check points, or by that bottleneck, which made space tinier still by shrinking the available space by next to a third, because there were riot squad trucks parked along the road.
    The whole security plan, along with all of the Paris Police communication, were based upon the sketching of an enemy who was the English enemy, the early-80’s hooligan. The people who went to Paris, the Liverpool fans, were harmless, happy-go-lucky people, who knew the “big-game” drill.
    (Darmanin): Obviously, only in football, and specifically in football involving some English clubs, do such events occur. And because our riot control doctrine is, I believe, proportionate, it allowed us to keep people from dying or being injured .
    (Antoine Etcheto): Anyway, the blame’s always put on the fans, or on Seine-Saint-Denis youngsters, and there both were put in the same bag. That is not an unusual form of communication, but in that case it was blown out of proportion. There were thefts, there were assaults, and yes people tried to force their way in, but we’re talking about 300, maybe 400 people, about a well-known risk, so the responsibility of the people in charge of the organization was not to target these people the following day, but rather to keep those incidents from happening on matchday.
    It is very clear that in Saint-Denis last Saturday, the way the police forces dealt with the situation was way below par. We really are in denial, and what upsets me most, is the refusal to acknowledge that the Liverpool fans were the victims of a failed plan. Actually, even though everything they are being accused of by the government were true, nevertheless there were people, elderly people, families, who got tear-gased in the Stade de France whereabouts, whose had been terrified by the moments they spent in the middle of the crowd.
    And that should be enough to at least acknowledge their status as victims, as well as the failing of the plan and, once again, to apologize to them. But we don’t even have that.
    (Darmanin): What happened was that an extra 30000 or 40000 people to the Stade de France 80000-people capacity, out there on the esplanade. They either had or didn’t have a ticket.
    (Antoine Etcheto): There’s no denying the risk of fake tickets, it is a reality. It happens around all finals, around all high-stake games, either because there are resellers trying to con people, plain and simple, or because there are people who print tickets as well as they possibly can, at home, thinking to themselves that with a bit of luck it just might work out fine. On top of that, there is a risk which is specific to Liverpool, because of that club culture of theirs, including people who precisely take their chances at printing out the best counterfeit tickets they can.
    That’s one thing, the second thing is the scale of the counterfeiting, between 30000 and 40000 tickets. To put it as kindly as I can, this is absolutely not what we could see out there. Along with my colleague Pierre Barthélémy we spent three hours in front of the Stade de France check-ins. We saw some fake tickets, but there were some more fake credentials handed out. What we saw with our own eyes were tickets that had been printed out on home printers, not exactly state-of-the-art jobs, and really easy to spot. But then again, that is insignificant. 40000 people, that’s an extra half-Stade de France. The esplanade is not very wide and as I jus said you could make your way in without a ticket because of that check point which had gone bust – for very good reasons, if it hadn’t we were in for a catastrophe. However, the fact is that this check point had gone useless. So, even though that ramp was the only available access road left for the Liverpool fans coming out of the RER “D”, and was already packed up, an extra 40000 people would have had to walk along it, which amounts to a total of of 60000 people, give or take, I think, walking along that one and only ramp. That is just inconceivable. Moreover, the esplanade would have been packed up tight, which it wasn’t.
    When the last Liverpool fans walked into the stadium – around 10.15 p.m – the only people left didn’t have tickets, and that’s when the mobile military police charged in order to kick them out of the Stade de France esplanade. These are the 300, 400 people Darmanin mentions, and I think that specific number is the right one. But then again, that’s 300, 400 people left around the Stade de France, and it didn’t take long to kick them out. But where have the 30000-40000 gone?
    Before the game, the Interior Minister predicted 60000 to 70000 fans, which means 20000 from the Liverpool ticket share, 6000, 7000 more who had purchased their tickets from public sellers, so there were a few more tickets than the official share – but that always happens with this kind of games – plus an extra 40000 – 45000 people without tickets. There were 25000 fans inside the stadium, give or take, 45000 Liverpool fans away at the “Nation” square, we have an exact match with the pre-game expectation of both the French services, and the British police.
    Where do these 30000-40000 come from? We are told, the calculation of the Interior Minister now evokes 25000 people who are supposed to have driven to Paris. But where do you park such a number of cars in the whereabouts of the Stade de France? And what do they do with themselves? They try to make their way in, and then they go back home to England, right away, without even sticking around just long enough to be able to watch the game? It doesn’t make sense.
    Whatever beacons we have, based on the information made public by the Interior Minister, as well as on the observations and the information which the Liverpool fans gave us, those 30000-40000 are nowhere to be seen. Therefore, either the Interior Department succeeds in proving its point, and it has to do so very fast, or the whole thing is an outright lie. A political choice was made there, which was to choose a diplomatic crisis with Greea-Britain, with the hope that, since these are football fans who are being targeted, things won’t go very far, because we are used to treating football fans as second-class citizens in France. Therefore, we’d rather trigger a diplomatic crisis with the U.K. than a political crisis in France.
    Now the way fans are regarded in the U.K. is not the same as in France. There were British MPs, Liverpool MPs who were inside the stadium, who found themselves stuck in that bottleneck. The British media covered the whole thing immediately, they made their way down to the whereabouts of the Stade de France check-ins, right away, so as to check what was going on, to witness families, waiting patiently to walk through the ckeck-ins, and being tear-gased.
    (Olivia Grégoire): The President of the Republic, didn’t even have to mention his full support of the Interior Minister. Gérard Darmanin was among us, as he is each Wednesday. Gérard Darmanin is an Interior Minister who the President has an absolute trust in.
    (Antoine Etcheto): Now the worrying thing is that we have reached a peak as far as the organization problems around the Stade de France are concerned, and this calls for reconsidering completely the way these big games are organized. We’re not talking of something that can be dealt with behind closed doors, with the same message delivered to the outside world, always the same: “We got it covered. No problem, we’ve always done things that way”. This call for absolute transparency, for members of the public to get involved – experts as well – in the discussions which will take place. It seems to me that our only option left, here in France, is a parliamentary inquiry mission so we can shed light upon all that, and pressure the Paris Police services into accounting for what happened. The problem is that we have some political staff members calling for such an inquiry, who have been ignoring for years what the fans were requiring.
    The far-right is having great fun, taking full advantage of the government’s spin doctors’ narratives, by putting all the blame on the Seine-Saint-Denis youngsters, who came to the Stade de France. Right now, the far-left doesn’t do much better, since their communication seems quite hypocritical to me, because once again no one has so far stood up for protecting our fundamental rights, for asking out whether there is a problem in France about the way sporting events are supposed to be made secure, or not.
    The parliamentary inquiry mission is interesting, but it has to be set up in good faith, and not just to mess up with the government. Most of all, representatives of the fans have to get involved in its works.

  10. A colleague I work with went to the game and his ticket was digital. Presumably downloaded to the phone via email.

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