Paris police chief Didier Lallement has accepted a ‘failure’ in security operations during the Champions League final between Liverpool and Real Madrid.
He also apologized for tear-gassing supporters as they attempted to enter the Stade de France while speaking to a commission investigating the incident at the French Senate.
“It is obviously a failure,” Lallement admitted. “It was a failure because people were pushed around and attacked. It’s a failure because the image of the country was undermined.”
‘Needed to move people back’
French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin claimed to reporters in the immediate aftermath of the game in May that police officers had ‘prevented deaths’ after riot police sprayed tear gas on fans, including women and children.
However, Lallement said he was “sorry” for authorising the use of tear gas in order to move supporters away from the stadium before adding he believed there was ‘no other means’ of reducing the growing pressure at the entrance.
“We needed to get people to move back,” Lallement explained. “We asked people to move back, then we used tear-gas… it’s the only way to our knowledge of moving a crowd back, except for a baton charge.”
The head of police was also pressed on the accusations of the number of fake tickets interior minister Darmanin had claimed Liverpool supporters attempted to use on the evening of the match.
Lallement admitted the figure may well have been exaggerated and that there was no scientific data to draw from, citing instead reports from police on the ground at the game.
“I might have been wrong on the figure of 30,000 to 40,000 thousand [fans with fake tickets] I gave to the [interior] minister,” said Lallement. “I never claimed it was absolutely accurate.”
“From an operational standpoint, it doesn’t change anything if it was around 40,000 or 30,000 or 20,000.”
He encouraged supporters from Liverpool and Real Madrid to file complaints if they were victims of counterfeited tickets or street crime outside the stadium “so that we can find the guilty parties and prosecute them.”
km/jt (dpa, AP)
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