French authorities deployed large numbers of riot police to the Champions League final in Paris apparently due to a mistaken association of the 1989 Hillsborough disaster with hooliganism, according to an official report prepared for France’s prime minister.
The report by Michel Cadot, the French Ministry of Sport’s delegate for major sporting events, seems to confirm the darker assumptions of many Liverpool fans in the final, that the heavy hand they suffered, including the use of tear gas, was based on prejudices about his probable behavior. .
Cadot’s 30-page report, delivered to French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne’s office on Friday, makes reference to Hillsborough in a section on police intelligence ahead of the May 28 final between Liverpool and Real Madrid. The section first acknowledges that Liverpool supporters have not been known for violence at matches. However, he then continues: “Reference to the Hillsborough tragedy in 1989 – 97 dead – for which the responsibility of the [police] was pointed out, however, led to the development of a firm police device, to maintain order in the riot squad, to be able to respond to a risk of collective phenomena of vandalism and chaos, as had happened in Marseille on June 13, 2016 during the England-Russia match.
The bereaved families of Hillsborough reacted with outrage and dismay at the reported association of the disaster, in the 1989 FA Cup semi-final, with hooliganism, and the revelation that despite all the changes in football over 33 years since then, it apparently continued to inform police perceptions. and behavior
After a 27-year campaign by grieving families and survivors to legally establish the truth of how the disaster was caused, a grand jury found in 2016 that all 97 victims were unlawfully killed due to gross negligent homicide by officer commanding police officer of South Yorkshire. Ch Superintendent David Duckenfield.
The jury also found that there was no hooliganism, drunkenness, lack of tickets or any other alleged misbehavior on the part of Liverpool supporters that contributed to the disaster.
Louise Brookes, whose 26-year-old brother Andrew was one of the 97 people killed, said of the report: “This is a total and outrageous failure to understand the disaster. And this prejudice, that Liverpool fans are hooligans, based on a complete misunderstanding of something that happened 33 years ago, almost caused another disaster in Paris, for a new generation of Liverpool fans.”
Cadot’s report identified multiple lapses in crowd management at the Stade de France, where kick-off was delayed 36 minutes while thousands of supporters stood in static lines and many were tear-gassed by French police. However, his report maintains the accusation that a large number of Liverpool supporters with fake tickets were a substantial part of the problem. Borne is reported to have accepted Cadot’s recommendations for improvement and asked that they be implemented without delay.
Steve Rotheram, mayor of the Liverpool City Region, which has experienced the chaos in Paris, including theft, described that allegation as a means by the French government to deflect blame and scapegoat supporters. Of the Hillsborough reference, Rotheram said: “This is described as intelligence, but it shows a lack of intelligence and confirms our worst fears. The egregious policing and mismanagement of the crowd in Paris was based on falsehood, ignorance and prejudice. This again underscores the need for a full, thorough and independent investigation.”
Margaret Aspinall, the last president of the Hillsborough Family Support Group, whose 18-year-old son James was one of the 97 people who died in the disaster, described the report as an embarrassment.
“This confirms our worst suspicions that a completely false view of what happened in Hillsborough has been reported to a police force in another country. It shows the power of the lies told by the police in this country, which many people still believe and repeat. Football stadiums and surveillance became much safer after the disaster, and all football fans should understand that.”
The French sports ministry, which commissioned the report, and the interior ministry, which is responsible for policing, were contacted for comment.
A UEFA spokesman said the organization could not comment on an official French government report. However, a source insisted that UEFA staff are well aware of the truth about Hillsborough and were not involved in providing such references to police as intelligence.