The treatment of Liverpool fans by French police at the Champions League final was based on a misconceived link between the Hillsborough disaster and hooliganism, according to a government report on the chaos at the Stade de France.
French deployed riot police and Liverpool fans were attacked with teargas outside the stadium, with the 30-page report admitting the French police’s heavy-handed tactics were informed by incorrect stereotypes rather than the behaviour of Liverpool fans at the final.
The report said there were “multiple failures” of crowd management in Paris and for many Liverpool fans the experience of the final brought back traumatic memories of the Hillsborough disaster, where 97 supporters were killed at the FA Cup semi-final in 1989.
An inquest into the disaster following a long fight from the Hillsborough families for the truth determined that the 97 supporters were “unlawfully killed” due to gross negligence and that the behaviour of the Liverpool fans did not contribute to the disaster.
The mayor of Liverpool, Steve Rotherham, told the Guardian that the reference to Hillsborough and the link to hooliganism “confirms our worst fears” that prejudice played a role in police tactics and subsequent attempts from French authorities to blame the chaos on Liverpool fans, while the Hillsborough families have reacted in dismay to the report.
The report stated: “Reference to the Hillsborough tragedy in 1989 – 97 deaths – for which the responsibility of the [police] was pointed out, led however to the drawing up of a firm policing arrangement, to maintain order in riot gear, in order to be able to respond to a risk of collective phenomena of hooliganism and havoc, as had happened in Marseilles on 13 June 2016 during the England-Russia game.”
Uefa has launched a review into the final while the French police chief Didier Lallement has conceded his operation at the Stade de France had been a failure. Lallement has also admitted there was no evidence to his initial claim that there were up to 40,000 Liverpool fans without tickets outside the stadium.