'Bulls**t': Senator slams 'liar' Darmanin over Liverpool fans' role in UCL final

The co-chairman of the inquiry into the carnage which took place at UEFA Champions League final at the Stade de France in May has labelled French minister of the interior Gérald Darmanin’s version of events ‘bulls***’, in a stinging rebuttal of a government figurehead who tried to blame Liverpool supporters for the fiasco.

Reds fans including women, children and the disabled were tear gassed, hit with riot shields by police forces and robbed by armed gangs of local youths at European football’s showpiece event, with a French senate investigation currently underway in order to ascertain the cause of the problems which left some supporters traumatised and others with serious injuries.

Darmanin and sport minister Amélie Oudéa-Castéa launched a propaganda assault on Liverpool fans in the aftermath, seeking to protect the reputation of French authorities by passing the buck to supporters themselves. Before the senate, Darmanin claimed that fans arrived late, were drunken, and that up to 40,000 attempted to enter the stadium without valid tickets. He cited an industrial scale ‘massive fraud’ as the cause of the disorder.

The minister’s version of events has been largely derided in France, though, with a poll finding that 76 percent of French people thought he was lying in his testimony to the senate. French daily newspaper Libération, meanwhile, depicted Darmanin as Pinocchio with an enlarged nose caused by lying in one of its front pages. At no point has Darmanin provided a scrap of evidence proving his version of events, while French authorities allowed CCTV evidence from the stadium to be ‘automatically’ deleted rather than providing it to the inquiry to be examined.

Now one of the two co-chairs of the inquiry senator François-Noël Buffet has called Darmanin’s testimony before the senate ‘bulls***’, saying he told ‘lies’ about Liverpool fans when he gave evidence to the inquiry in front of a global audience.

‘The major problem comes from the minister of the interior, who lied,’ Buffet told Le Progres. ‘Following the events, he told us bulls***. That is what sparked the fire. If he had admitted to mistakes and apologised, there would have been no huge controversy.’

As well as lambasting Darmanin, who was this week re-appointed minister of the interior by prime minister Élisabeth Borne in France’s new government, Buffet sought to clarify that Liverpool supporters were not at fault in any way, shape, or form for what happened at the Stade de France.

‘Initially, the [Darmanin] told us there were 30,000 fake tickets,’ Buffet explained. ‘In the end, only 2,800 fake tickets were counted [by UEFA]. He had also said that it was the fault of the English, who had caused all the carnage.

‘This is not true in reality. The English were not responsible. They have nothing to do with it. It was the poor organisation [of the match] that caused all the difficulties that were encountered, in particular the [security] controls at the stadium.’

Chief of Paris police Didier Lallement revealed in his testimony before the senate that he was the one who had created the 40,000 ticketless fans figure, admitting that he had conjured the number up from scratch and that it has ‘no scientific value.’

For Buffet, Lallement’s prioritisation of control over safety was a significant cause of the suffering done unto supporters before and after the match against Real Madrid.

‘The chief of police acknowledged that his priority was the maintenance of order, not public safety,’ Buffet added. The findings of the investigation which Buffet and co-chairman Laurent Lafon have overseen will be published in a public report on 13 July.

UEFA’s own investigation is due to last until at least September according to the European football governing body’s CEO of events Martin Kallen, who himself was slammed by fans when he tried to blame supporters in his appearance before the senate.

Fans of both Liverpool and Real Madrid, meanwhile, were roundly praised in the French press and the senate for giving testimony which was described as ‘harrowing and apocalyptic’ by former sports minister Patrick Kanner.

Buffet has previously touted the possibly of a full French parliamentary inquiry into the chaos, which would require those called to testify to do so under oath, with threat of prosecution for anybody found liable.

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