PARIS — The 2022 UEFA Champions League final was plunged into chaos as thousands of fans found themselves stuck in queues outside the Stade de France with kickoff looming. UEFA first delayed the start of the game by 15 minutes to 3:15 p.m. ET before then adding another 20 minutes to the delay as fans at Gates U and X were stuck outside unable to get in to take their seats at the 90,000 capacity Stade de France.
Fans outside the ground waiting to get in at Gate X told CBS Sports that they had been stuck in queues for up to three hours due to bottlenecks created by police vehicles. Gendarmerie were deployed to the busiest gates in an attempt to speed up a process that was heavily criticized by Liverpool supporters.
“I live here and I come here multiple times per year and I’ve never seen anything like this before,” said one fan caught in the crowd before kickoff. “[Usually] everyone comes through [Gate] D and it’s not normal to have that many people. They pulled two police vans on either side and they made a tunnel but imagine if the fans pushed … something’s gonna happen.”
As the original game time approached, lines at Gate U began to clear but hundreds of fans remained at Gates X and Y still unable to get into the stadium. As kickoff neared at least two cannisters of tear gas were sprayed at fans, one directly at those in the crows and another which blew over the fans at the back of the line waiting to get in at Gate Y.
Liverpool fans caught waiting to get into the stadium could not help but compare the situation to Hillsborough, one of soccer’s greatest tragedies. At the 1989 FA Cup semifinal between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest, 96 fans were killed in a crush at the Leppings Lane end of Hillsborough, another subsequently died from the injuries. After a lengthy pursuit of justice, Liverpool fans subjected to incorrect slurs and accusations that they were at fault for the disaster were found to bear no responsibility for the events.
In response to Saturday’s events Liverpool issued the following statement:
“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”