Due to kick off at 8pm, UEFA’s showpiece event was pushed back by nearly 40 minutes as thousands of Liverpool supporters were unable to get into the stadium in time. As the first half went on, videos and eyewitness accounts started to circulate showing the gravity of the situation away from the field of play.
An official communication from UEFA said that the delay was due to “security reasons”, with pictures and videos on social media showing large crowds of supporters queuing to enter the arena. It led to Liverpool calling for an investigation.
There were reports on Twitter of entry gates being closed and supporters being penned in segregation areas for hours, while some eyewitness reports said fans were hit with pepper spray and tear gas by the French authorities.
Broadcaster Kelly Cates tweeted: “I was outside in the chaos well over an hour before kick off and in fact, was within a few hundred yards 2 hours before. Just couldn’t get near. No signposts, no direction, no early ticket checks.”
Liverpool-based journalist Andy Kelly wrote: “Fans queuing outside with tickets for a gate that’s been shut for no reason just been tear gassed. Throughly [sic] unpleasant experience and so dangerous. This isn’t how fans should be treated in a civilised society. Unacceptable.”
German journalist Florian Plettenberg reported that the brother of Liverpool defender Joel Matip, Marvin, had to flee the stadium due to the scene outside the Stade de France. "Update Paris: Massive chaos in front of the stadium,” Plettenberg tweeted. “The brother of Joel Matip, Marvin, had to flee with his family while they tried to get access in the stadium. His wife is pregnant. Tear gas! They had to take refuge in a restaurant.”
Daily Mail journalist Dominic King tweeted: “ Let this be said now with absolutely clarity: there is no blame to be put on fans here, none whatsoever. French police have used pepper spray for no reason - and I know this because I’ve felt the effects with some colleagues. How these people are being treated is a disgrace.”
A video on Twitter also showed Liverpool supporters jumping over barriers as they approached the stadium.
The match eventually kicked off at 8.37pm BST, although reporters inside the stadium said that there were still gaps in the stands as people continued to try and gain admission. Then, as the first 45 minutes came to an end, there were claims that there were too many fans in the Liverpool end. “Police have locked down the Stade de France, closing all entry and exit points to the concourse,” Tariq Panja of the New York Times said. “A uefa security official says tear gas is still being deployed outside. ‘For now it’s safer for you inside than outside’ he said.”
During the match, Liverpool released a statement requesting a formal investigation into the events outside the Stade de France.
It read: “We are hugely disappointed at the stadium entry issues and breakdown of the security perimeter that Liverpool fans faced this evening at Stade de France.
“This is the greatest match in European football and supporters should not have to experience the scenes we have witnessed tonight.
“We have officially requested a formal investigation into the causes of these unacceptable issues.