The Paris police chief admitted that he may have been mistaken when he claimed that up to 40,000 Liverpool fans attempted to enter the Champions League final using bogus tickets, despite the lack of scientific evidence to back up his assertion.
During a hearing in the French Senate, Didier Lallement noted that the police response around the match between Liverpool and Real Madrid at the Stade de France was a “failure” because supporters were wounded and France’s image was tarnished.
The final, which Liverpool lost 1-0, was delayed by more than 30 minutes after police officers forcefully held back people trying to enter the ground. Riot police sprayed tear gas on fans, including women and children.
French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said that much of the blame lay with Liverpool fans and that 30,000-40,000 arrived without valid tickets, which led to a crowd crush at the stadium and people trying to force their way in.
He was later backed by President Emmanuel Macron.
Darmanin’s version of events has been challenged by Liverpool fans who attended and say the vast majority of their supporters were well-behaved but were treated in a heavy-handed manner by French riot police.
“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.
“From an operational standpoint, it doesn’t change anything if it was around 40,000 or 30,000 or 20,000,” Lallement said.
French senators pushed Lallement to explain the empirical evidence behind the figure for fake tickets, which he said had come through reports from police officials on the ground.
“It was I who gave this figure to the Minister, and I fully stand by it,” he added.
During the parliamentary hearing, Lallement said he was the only one responsible for police action during the crowd trouble around the Stade of France, which is located just outside Paris.
Liverpool’s metro mayor Steve Rotheram, who attended the final, during which he said he was robbed, was due to give testimony to senators later on Thursday.