Stade de France incidents: Liverpool fans want "excuses" and "a thorough investigation"

Ted Morris shows the battery meter of the electric wheelchair in which he is installed. He taps on the right armrest where these diodes are located. “There were only three bars left”he says in his story. “Three Bars”, it is for him the risk of breaking down, of not being able to move but at this moment, Ted leaves the Stade de France and heads for the RER station. Around him, he describes the chaos. Violent groups attack England supporters. He rolls to escape in the company of his wife, with the fear of not being able to move forward. He ends up being hit in turn, assaulted. Ted thinks of his wife who comes to his rescue but also of his two daughters who are still in the stadium. “The most terrifying experience of my life. I thought I was going to die”, he slips short of breath. Emotion shines in his eyes. A few meters away, he sees uniforms. The French police remain motionless. Worse, when Ted and his friends reach them, they are sprayed with tear gas.

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It’s the end of a horrible night for this Liverpool fan: “And I’m not talking about the result of the match, it’s incidental to what we experienced.” Ted Morris chairs the Disabled Supporters Association of Liverpool Football Club. He took hundreds of members to this final. He retains from this evening only tears, cries, images that mark him: a mentally deficient 8-year-old kid who is choking in a huge cloud of tear gas, a young woman in a wheelchair with her shoulder dislocated or even this 14-year-old teenager with Williams syndrome, a chromosomal genetic disease, completely lost, frightened who believed that Russian troops, sent by Putin, were sweeping the stadium. It was in fact the French police forces.

Ted Morris, Liverpool fan, present at the Stade de France on May 28, in Liverpool (United Kingdom) - June 2022 (RICHARD PLACE / RADIO FRANCE)

Ted Morris will be in front of the senators, Tuesday, June 21, to tell all this. Joe Blott will be at his side. The president of “Spirit of Shankly”, the main association of supporters of the LFC, wants to testify so that the truth comes out. Because there was the evening, the endless wait, the violence, the fear… But there is also “lies.” On May 28, 2022, when he had just taken his place in the stands, he heard the message broadcast in the stadium announcing that the kick-off was postponed because of the Liverpool supporters who arrived late “while we had all been there for almost four hours. I understood at that moment that they were already rewriting history”. “They”are the organisers: UEFA and the French authorities. The two targets of his wrath today. “We don’t have to dictate how you should proceed, says Joe Blott. But it needs a thorough, independent and fair investigation.”

“It will take more than hollow apologies for strangers who come to visit your capital and have been treated like animals.”

Joe Blott, president of a Liverpool Reds supporters association

at franceinfo

Beside him, Ian Byrne comes alive after this last sentence: “Why ask to organize this final if it is to treat us like this? gets carried away this member of Liverpool, dressed in the T-shirt of the club and present in Saint-Denis. You wanted to host this game, so do it right!”

Stuck between railings, aggressive police and thugs who came to rob and rape them, they lived through hell. “and immediately, we are held responsible for all this, continues the chosen one. While we have been extremely patient and disciplined. The memory of Hillsborough kept us cool.” The only name of the Sheffield stadium, Hillsborough Stadium, reminds everyone of the disaster of 1989. That year, 97 Reds supporters died, crushed by a movement of crowd, blocked in the enclosure. Ian Byrne was there with his father, injured that day. The English police immediately accuse the Liverpool fans. A version maintained for 23 years. It took until 2012 and a detailed report for the South Yorkshire police to present “unreserved apologies” and acknowledge their “serious mistakes.”

Joe Blott, President of "Spirit of Shankly", the main supporters association of LFC.  Liverpool (United Kingdom), June 2022 (RICHARD PLACE / RADIO FRANCE)

Liverpool supporters cultivate this memory. “I wasn’t born in 1989 but I grew up with the story of Hillsborough, explains Dan, present at the Stade de France. We remained calm, we were exemplary because we were marked by history.” The declarations of the French ministers added the feeling of injustice to the infernal evening. So when Paris offers English fans to fill out an online form to file a complaint with French justice, not many of them look into it. “How do you trust us?” asks Ian Byrne. “When I started reading it, I thought it was ridiculous, 23-year-old Kevin blows. In the places proposed to describe the attacks, there was no stadium. At no time was it possible to implicate the police… I gave up.” He no longer wants to hear about the French government.

“Let Darmanin resign!”

Kevin, Liverpool fan

at franceinfo

Since then, the form has been modified to better correspond to the evening of the Champions League final, but the lack of communication by the French authorities around this document makes it almost invisible in Liverpool. The episode of erased CCTV images has finished discouraging those who still had a little hope vis-à-vis France.

Ian Byrne, MP for Liverpool, was also present at the Stade de France for the match.  Liverpool (United Kingdom), June 2022 (RICHARD PLACE / RADIO FRANCE)

Sadness is probably the feeling that best sums up Jacob’s feeling when he thinks about all this. At 19, he is already a seasoned supporter. As often in this football-loving country, his father transmitted his passion to him. It was with him and friends that he went to Saint-Denis to attend his fourth Champions League final. The previous ones? “So many good memories, probably the best of my life. We visited, we had fun, just a good time.” He returned from France after living “the worst experience of my life.” Now, like many on the banks of the Mersey, he waits “an apology and a detailed account of what happened that night. That the responsibilities are clearly defined and that it is finally recognized that the Liverpool fans had nothing to do with it.”

Jacob, LFC supporter, in Liverpool (United Kingdom), June 2022 (RICHARD PLACE / RADIO FRANCE)

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Ted Morris, meanwhile, returns to Paris for this audition, and he is the first surprised. “It’s a beautiful place, but after what happened I never wanted to go back there again.” This time, the president of the disabled supporters association of Liverpool will testify before the senators and try to make his vision of this Champions League final heard as a fan. “It’s not just a football game, he indicates. The match is the culmination of a few days of immersion in the culture of any city. Football transcends. It’s about a sense of belonging with people you don’t know. We come from all over the world with the same objective, to support a club and make new friends. That’s football when you’re a Liverpool Football Club supporter.”

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